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Mabo home
...Eddie Mabo's composure...
Eddie Mabo's composure in the unfamiliar and, to many, intimidating surrounds of the Courtroom was remarkable -particularly given the amount of pressure being applied by Queensland. Greg McIntyre's comments on Eddie's resilience are interesting:

Greg McIntyre: ...He was perfectly relaxed. He was completely at home. He was in control. He was the stage manager. And I mean, and in a situation which would have thrown many people because the counsel for Queensland who at that time was principally Burne - his approach was to object to everything that was asked of Eddie, so I mean a lot of people would have lost their cool or clammed up in that situation, but that didn't faze Koiki at all. He was, he'd be asked about something, and he'd start to say it, and they'd say - they'd object, and they'd say, they'd explain their objection, and then Brian would ask the question and he'd just answer it, or they'd say, no, you have to say in the words, and he'd say, all right: 'I was sitting down under the tree and my grandfather said to me' - and he was just completely in control. He'd sit there patiently and wait while the lawyers sort of played their little game. And then in complete control he'd answer the question, he spoke to everybody politely.

So what - how long did that go on for, in terms of the objections?

Greg McIntyre: It went on for most of the first five weeks, but with some days off for the judge being sick. But essentially for the - there were over three hundred objects recorded in the transcript, and it essentially went on for that whole period of five weeks that we'd set aside in '85 to hear the evidence. Koiki's evidence wasn't finished in that time, and we then had to break, and come back in '89 I think it was. And he started again, I think he'd almost finished his evidence in chief and then there was some cross examination for another several days, and, but, he was, we'd had in mind at the beginning that he would just present a thirty page statement and say well, that's my evidence, do you want to cross examine me about it? We'd prepared the document, and got to the point of distributing it at the beginning of the hearing, and Queensland said, No we just couldn't accept that document as the evidence, we want - because it's not m direct speech, it doesn't tell precisely what was said to him and so on, we just can't accept that, so - that was in a sense giving general descriptions about things, so we just virtually had to start again, and start from what happened on day one, when he was seven.

Greg McIntyre: Yes it was all hearsay based, and to some extent saying that he was reaching was drawing conclusions using the word 'rights' for instance, they said, 'well that's a legal conclusion which the judge must draw not, not you', well to say it's my land, or, I own that, is - has a legal connotation to it, and they were objecting to that sort of thing as well.

Do you think Koiki created an impression in court?

Greg McIntyre: Well that's what I was trying to say before. I mean he gave the impression of authority, and being in control, but I think that probably for Moynihan and others, Queensland people perhaps, the degree to which he was able to tell these stories, sort of down pat, just one after the other, I think started to gain a sense of unreality, I mean nobody, I've never seen evidence like that before, somebody could just tell story after story after story in you know the precise words of something that was said fifty years beforehand, and I had the feeling that after a while that would have worn a bit thin with somebody as sceptical as Moynihan was in those proceedings, and that may have led to the conclusion which Moynihan reached...
Keywords: Mabo Case, Mabo, Edward Koiki, McIntyre, Greg

Greg McIntyre interviewed by Trevor Graham, 1996.
Author: Kenna, Jonathan
Source: McIntyre, Greg