Aboriginal communities in Australia are elated over a new ruling by the Australian High Court: on March 16, the Court declared the federal government's Native Title Act, passed in late 1993, valid. It summarily tossed out a challenge to the Act by Western Australia's conservative government.
The judgement has also declared as unconstitutional the government's Land (Titles and Traditional Usage) Act. Consequently, a huge question now hovers over the validity of the estimated 8,000 land grants made over the past 15 months under the Act.
The ruling is likely to open the floodgates for a tide of native title claims in Western Australia, leaving Australia's mining industry, a lot of it on aborigine land, very jittery. "The decision signals a mass exodus, because now mining is being made to feel very unwelcome in Australia," asserts Ron Manners, chairman of Croesus Mining, who termed the ruling "a very unfortunate circumstance for Australia".
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.