26 January 2023

Claire G Coleman wants the onus of proof put where it belongs [$] in land rights cases: “An important distinction in the Mabo decision is that native title exists wherever it has not been extinguished by the land being put to other uses. Land claimed by Cook and then by Arthur Phillip was determined to have always belonged to the traditional owners. In other words, all unallocated or unclaimed crown land belongs to the traditional owners and not to the government or the crown. … There is no crown land on this continent. … It’s all legally and spiritually Aboriginal land. Always was, always will be. … The Mabo decision determined that the crown did not legally occupy any land in the colony of Australia in 1788. All land holdings present in 1787, which is all land on the continent, continue to this day unless the title has been extinguished by allocation between 1788 and the Mabo decision. Post-Mabo, the crown owns no land in Australia. Crown land should not exist; the Mabo decision gives traditional owners the right to claim crown land once they have asserted their land rights. Yet regardless of this, the adversarial stance of the government against land rights continues. … The only reason I can think of why crown land is not being returned to traditional owners is a refusal to give us back what is ours. Want to prove you give a shit? Want to prove reconciliation is possible? Return all vacant crown land to the traditional owners of that land, return what you have stolen but have not used. All traditional owners have the right to claim unclaimed crown land post-Mabo, but when we ask for our land back, particularly when that land contains mineral resources or is in the temperate south of the continent or near a capital city, the government, no matter what party is in control, fights us. This fighting can end.”

Coleman gave a very good interview elaborating on her argument on the 7am podcast.