Indigenous Equality: The Long Road


  • Greg McIntyre


This essay identifies some of incremental progress towards substantive racial equality in Australia for First Nations Peoples observed in the course of a legal practice extending over the past 44 years, affected by cases brought before the courts, particularly the case of Mabo v Queensland. It discusses the impact on that progress of legislation, particularly the Native Title Act. It concludes that recognition of the fiduciary duty of the Government towards its First Nations Peoples may be a necessary prerequisite to according them self determination and equality within the Australian nation.



A Articles/Books/Reports

Australian Human Rights Commission, Native Title Report 2011 (Report, 2011)

Bauman, Toni and Lydia Glick (ed), Limits of Change: Mabo and Native Title 20 Years On (AIATSIS Research Publications 2012)

Brennan, Sean, Megan Davis, Brendan Edgeworth and Leon Terrill (eds), Native Title from Mabo to Akiba: A Vehicle for Change and Empowerment? (Federation Press, 2015)

Edgeworth, Brendan, ‘Extinguishment of Native Title: Recent High Court Decisions’ (2016) 8(22) Indigenous Law Bulletin 28

Erik Olbrei (ed), Black Australians: the prospects for change (James Cook University of North Queensland Student Union, 1982)

Grover, Kirstky, ‘The Honour of the Crowns: State-Indigenous Fiduciary Relationships and Australian Exceptionalism’ (2016) 38(3) Sydney Law Review 339, 359.

Harris, Bede, A New Constitution for Australia (Routledge, 2013)

Hookey, John, ‘The Gove Land Rights case: a judicial dispensation for the taking of Aboriginal lands in Australia’ (1972) 5(1) Federal Law Review 85

Hobbs, Harry and George Williams, ‘The Noongar Settlement: Australia's First Treaty’ (2018) 40(1) Sydney Law Review 1

Johnston, Darlene M, ‘A Theory of Crown Trust Towards Aboriginal Peoples’ (1986) 18 Ottawa Law Review 307

Koen-Cohen, Bryan (ed), Native Title in the New Millennium (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2001) 305

Lester, Geoffrey and Graham Parker, ‘Land Rights: The Australian Aborigines have lost a battle, but…’ (1973) 11(2) Alberta Law Review 189

McIntyre, Greg, ‘The Toohey Legacy: Rights and Freedoms, Compassion and Honour” (2018) 43(1) University of Western Australia Law Review 57

McIntyre, Greg, Submission No 196 to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Peoples, Parliament of Australia (11 June 2018)

McNeil, Kent, ‘Racial Discrimination and Unilateral Extinguishment of Native Title’ (1996) 1(2) Australian Indigenous Law Review 181

Pearson, Noel, ‘Land is Susceptible of Ownership’ in M Langton et al (eds) Honour Among Nations? (Melbourne University Press, 2004)

Nettheim, Garth (ed), Aborigines, human rights and the law (ANZ Book Co, 1974)

Nettheim, Garth, ‘Sparrow v The Queen’ (1991) 2 Aboriginal Law Bulletin 12

Slattery, Brian, Aboriginal Rights and the Honour of the Crown (2005) 29 Supreme Court Law Review 433

Strelein, Lisa, Compromised Jurisprudence, Native Title cases since Mabo (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2nd ed, 2009)

B Cases

Akiba v Commonwealth (2013) 250 CLR 209

AB (deceased) (on behalf of the Ngarla People) v State of Western Australia [No 4] [2012] FCA 1268

Banjima People v State of Western Australia [2015] FCAFC 84

Brown v Western Australia (2010) 268 ALR 149

Brooking on behalf of the Bunuba People (Bunuba #2 (Part B)) v State of Western Australia [2019] FCA 1162

Cherokee Nation v Georgia 30 US (5 Pet) 1 (1831)

David Stock & Ors and State of Western Australia & Ors (Nyiyaparli) (Federal Court Application WAD6280/1998)

De Rose v State of South Australia (2005) 145 FCR 290

Delgamuukw v British Columbia (1993) 104 DLR (4th) 470

Drill on behalf of the Purnululu Native Title Claim Group v State of Western Australia [2020] FCA 1510

Fejo v Northern Territory [1998] HCA 58

Fortescue Metals Group v Warrie on behalf of the Yindjibarndi People [2019] FCAFC 177

Guerin v The Queen (1984) 13 DLR (4TH) 321

Harrington-Smith on behalf of the Wongatha People v State of Western Australia [2007] FCA 31

Holborow on behalf of the Yaburara & Mardudhunera People v State of Western Australia (No 3) [2018] FCA 1108

Te Runanga o Wharekauri v A-G [1993] 2 NZLR 301

Karpany v Dietman (2013) 303 ALR 216

Mabo v Queensland (No 1) (1988) 166 CLR 186

Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR

McGlade v Native Title Registrar [2017] FCAFC 10

McGlade v South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Aboriginal Corporation [No 2] [2019] FCAFC 238.

Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria [2002] HCA 58

Millirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (1971) 17 FLR 141

Moses v State of Western Australia [2007] FCAFC 78

North Ganalanja Aboriginal Corporation v The State of Queensland [1995] FCA 869

Purnululu (2018) WAD 536

R v Sparrow (1990) 70 DLR (4TH) 395

The Wororra Peoples & Anor v The State of Western Australia No 147 of 1993

Taylor on behalf of the Yamatji Nation Claim v State of Western Australia [2020] FCA 42

United States v Santa Fe Pacific Railroad Co (1941) 314 US 339

Warlangurru #2 WAD744/2015

Western Australia v Commonwealth [1995] HCA 47

Western Australia v Ward (2002) 213 CLR 1

Wik Peoples v Queensland [1996] HCA 40

Queensland v Congoo [2015] HCA 17

Yanner v Eaton (1999) 201 CLR 351

Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria [1998] FCA 1606

C Legislation

Australian Constitution

Iron Ore (Mount Goldsworthy) Agreement Act 1964 (WA)

Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

Traditional Owners Settlement Act 2010 (Vic)

D Other

Andrew Tillett, ‘Labor states lead the way on Indigenous treaty’, Financial Review (Web Page, 15 July 2019) <>

‘Blackfellas, whitefellas and the hidden injuries of race’, The Age (Web Page, 17 April 2004) <>

‘Charles Perkins (Aboriginal activist)’, Wikipedia (Web Page, 15 November 2020) <>

Harry Hobbs, ‘The Noongar Settlement: Two Lessons for Treaty Making in Australia’, Australian Public Law (Web Page, 24 October 2018) <>

‘John Howard’s Amended Wik 10-Point Plan’, AustralianPolitics (Web Page, 8 May 1997) <>

‘Majority rules! Parliament acts to make indigenous land use agreements viable again’, Clayton Utz (Web Page, 14 June 2017) <>

Mick Miller (Aboriginal statesman)’, Wikipedia (Web Page, 3 September 2020) <>

Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Act 2017 (Cth); ‘Finally - a legislative fix for McGlade ILUAs’, Ashurst (Web Page, 14 June 2017) <>

‘Our History’, Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation (Web Page) <>

Paul Harley and Liz Wreck, ‘Latest on the Yamatjii Nation Indigenous land Use Agreement’, HopgoodGanim (Web Page, 11 May 2020) <>

‘Settlement Agreement’, South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (Web Page) <>

‘Tom Stephens’, Wikipedia (Web Page, 24 October 2020) <>

‘Phillip Toyne’, Wikipedia (Web Page, 20 August 2020) <>

Western Australian Government, ‘South West Native Title Settlement’, Department of Premier and Cabinet (Web Page, 4 August 2020) <>

Yamatji Nation Indigenous Land Use Agreement documents’, Western Australia Government (Web Page, 6 November 2020) <>

‘Yamatji Nation Indigenous Land Use Agreement’, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (Web Page, 26 October 2020) <>