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Land Rights and the Future of Australian Race Relations
The 'Land Rights and the Future of Australian Race Relations' conference was attended by barrister Barbara Hocking from Melbourne, Professor Garth Nettheim of the Aboriginal Law Centre - University of New South Wales, Murray Islander Father Dave Passi, Greg McIntyre a solicitor from Cairns, Dr HC (Nugget Combs) of the Aboriginal Treaty Committee and Dr Nonie Sharp, from LaTrobe University Sociology Department.

The conference was addressed by legal and academic experts alongside islanders such as Mabo, Father Passi and another Torres Strait Islander, Mrs. Flo Kennedy from Thursday Island.

Mabo delivered a paper titled, 'Land Rights in the Torres Straits' and spoke about the customary system of land ownership and inheritance on Murray Island.

Barbara Hocking suggested in her paper that the time was ripe for a High Court Challenge around the issue of native title. Greg McIntyre contributed a paper analysing the Blackburn judgement, which had re-affirmed the doctrine of terra nullius in the Millirpum v Nabalco case of 1971.

The experts decided that a legal challenge, based on Murray Island's land tenure system, could have a chance of success in the High Court and establish native title for the first time in Australia.
Keywords: conference, Land Rights Conference, 1981, land tenure, Townsville, 1981

Author: Graham, Trevor