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The inherent right of aboriginal self-government in Australia Barr, Olivia McLeod 2004

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THE INHERENT RIGHT OF ABORIGINAL S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T IN AUSTRALIA by OLIVIA McLEOD BARR LL.B. (Dist.), University of Western Australia, 2002 B.A., University of Western Australia, 2002 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE D E G R E E OF MASTER OF LAWS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (The Faculty of Law) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIV^FJSrrrOf^ BRITISH COLUMBIA August 2004 © Olivia McLeod Barr, 2004. THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA F AC ULTY'sQF GRADUAT E?ST U M ES| Library Authorization In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. f)(f~s,« Iff. % c\ r r Name of Author (please print) 11? / oS fouf *_ / i i/ / \ ' Date (dd/mm/yyyy) Title of Thesis: Degree: Yea r: lOO j _J3gpartmont of— The University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC Canada i l i I grad ubc c a / f o r m s P f o r m l D ^ H S ' * ' page 1 of 1. , '-'lastUpdated \6-Aug-04 ABSTRACT The relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of contemporary Austral ian society is bittersweet. Whi le Austral ians have embraced some aspects of Aboriginal culture - especial ly in art and sport - governments and the courts cling stubbornly to colonial attitudes when it comes to matters of justice and civil and political rights. The failure to recognise and give effect to Aboriginal rights has contributed to a significant power imbalance between Aboriginal people and the wider Austral ian society. This imbalance is manifest in a lack of education, employment and healthcare options for Aboriginal people and in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. O n e way to address this power imbalance is to recognise and protect a greater measure of Aboriginal self-government. However , the concept of self-government has an extremely low profile in Austral ia . It is not a matter of current government policy and the courts have only dealt with self-government as a peripheral aspect of native title. I consider the question of whether there is a c o m m o n law right of self-government in Austral ia . I look to Canad i an aboriginal rights jurisprudence to inform the development and recognition of a common law doctrine of self-government in Austral ia . Ill A s soon as one looks beyond the rhetoric of legal positivism and analyses the case law in its historical context, it becomes apparent that the inherent right of self-government existed as part of the colonial common law imported into Austral ia . Importantly, the inherent right of self-government continues to form part of Austral ian c o m m o n law. T h e inherent right of self-government must be recognised. This is crucial , not only to address the significant power imbalance that exists in Austral ia today, but also to maintain the conceptual integrity of the Austral ian legal sys tem. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii PREFACE: THE LITTLE PRINCE vn ACKNOWLEDGEMENT xiv CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION i_ The Inherent Right of Aboriginal Self-Government 6 Methodology 1 0 CHAPTER TWO: ABORIGINAL SOVEREIGNTY 14 Aboriginal Sovereignty Prior to Colonial Contact 1 5 The Impact of Colonisation on Aboriginal Sovereignty 1 9 Sovereignty: Myriad Meanings 2 1 I N T E R N A T I O N A L L A W , S O V E R E I G N T Y & T H E S T A T E 2 5 C O N T E M P O R A R Y N O T I O N S O F S O V E R E I G N T Y 2 8 M O V I N G B E Y O N D T H E R E A L M O F S T A T E S O V E R E I G N T Y 3 0 Sovereignty Considered by Australian Courts 3 3 COE v COMMONWEAL TH (NO. ( 1 9 7 9 ) 3 4 WACANDO v COMMONWEALTH ( 1 9 8 1 ) 4 4 COE v COMMONWEALTH (NO. 2) ( 1 9 9 3 ) 4 7 WALKER V NEW SOUTH WALES ( 1 9 9 4 ) 5 0 Rejection of Absolute not Modified Sovereignty 5 2 F L A W E D Q U E S T I O N S 5 3 F L A W E D A S S U M P T I O N S U N D E R P I N N I N G T H E C O U R T ' S R E S P O N S E 5 6 C O N F L A T E D C O M M E N T A R Y 5 8 Conclusion 6 0 V C H A P T E R T H R E E : S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T & T H E COLONIAL C O M M O N L A W 6 2 Worcester v Georgia & the Right of Self-Government 6 3 Worcester v Georgia in Canada and Australia? 6 9 C A N A D A : A S E L E C T I V E E M B R A C I N G 6 9 A U S T R A L I A : D E N I A L O R M E R E L Y A M I S U N D E R S T A N D I N G ? 8 1 Why Does Canada Accept While Australia Reject Worcester v 8 4 Georgia? Conclusion 87 C H A P T E R FOUR: NATIVE TITLE & S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T 89 The Land Rights Movement 9 0 The Mabo Decisions 9 1 Communal Native Title & Self-Government 9 6 A n Aboriginal Right to Land & Self-Government: Beyond Social 1 0 3 Darwinism Conclusion 1 1 4 C H A P T E R FIVE: ABORIGINAL C U S T O M A R Y L A W 116 The Great Australian Silence 1 1 7 A Gradual Awareness 1 1 8 G O V E R N O R M A C Q U A R I E ' S & G O V E R N O R D A V E Y ' S P R O C L A M A T I O N 1 1 9 T H E P R E R O G A T I V E O F M E R C Y 1 2 3 The Early New South Wales Trilogy: The Other Side of the Frontier 1 2 5 R v BALLARD (1829) 1 2 6 R VMURRELL ( 1 8 3 6 ) 1 3 1 R v BONJON ( 1 8 4 1 ) 1 3 5 vi Colonial Recognition of Aboriginal Law 1 3 7 C O N T E M P O R A R Y I N T E R P R E T A T I O N F L A W E D 1 3 8 T H E D E B A T E 1 4 3 R E C O G N I T I O N O F A B O R I G I N A L L A W 1 4 5 The Contemporary Situation 1 4 8 Administrative Flexibility or Legal Plurality? 1 5 0 Aboriginal Law & Self-Government 1 5 6 Conclusion 1 5 8 C H A P T E R SIX: CONCLUSION 160 BIBLIOGRAPHY 164 Vll Preface THE LITTLE PRINCE I would like to indulge myself, and my readers, in remembering the children's story "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.1 For those who don't remember, or were unfortunate never to know, the Little Prince lived on Asteroid B-612. This is a very small planet, where you can see the sunset again and again, just by moving your chair. One day the Little Prince left his planet and visited his neighbours. He met some very interesting people and visited some very interesting planets and then he arrived on Earth. There he met an adult. It is this adult that I would like to remember. Well, actually, it is this adult, when he was still a child, that I would like to remember. This child saw a magnificent picture in a book of a boa constrictor swallowing an animal. After pondering this, the child made "Drawing Number One". It looked like this: 1 Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince, trans, by Katherine Woods (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943). Vl l l When he showed it to the adults, expecting them to be frightened, he was disappointed. The adults couldn't understand why they should be frightened of a hat! The drawing was not of a hat, but of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. The adults couldn't see that. The child made a second drawing that the adults could understand (because adults always need explanations). This time he made a drawing from the inside, which he called "Drawing Number Two". Drawing Number Two looked like this: The adults advised the child to stop drawing and to devote time to geography and grammar. So he did. As a grown-up, he would show Drawing Number One to any adult who appeared clear-sighted, to try and find out if they were a "person of true understanding". They would always say, "that is a hat." This was because they were concerned with "matters of consequence". 2 2 Ibid at 12. If an adult was concerned with "matters of consequence", then the child (who is now an adult) would "never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I ix O n e day, this little boy that was now an adult, was in the Desert of Saha ra because his plane had broken down. It was there that he met the Little Pr ince . The Little Pr ince wanted him to draw a sheep, but he had never drawn a sheep. S o he drew the boa constrictor from the outside, his Drawing Number One . The little Pr ince was very upset because he did "not want an elephant inside a boa constrictor. A boa constrictor is a very dangerous creature ... [w]hat I need is a sheep." 3 Need les s to say, the boy that was now a grown-up was astounded. I have been wondering why the Little Pr ince could see that Drawing Number O n e w a s a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant from the outside, yet the adults could only see a hat. A n d why the adults needed to see Drawing Number T w o in order to understand that it wasn't a hat, but a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. I think the adults could not see because the adults were concerned with matters of consequence . By the time children have grown up and become adults, they have developed a particular world-view. O n c e this world-view has been developed, it becomes the way in which adults understand the world. Often, it becomes very inflexible. A set process has developed whereby adults process information and understand events in a particular manner. If a person approaches an act or event in a manner that is would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man." 3 Ibid. X not compatible with the adult's world-view, then that approach is wrong. It is wrong because the adult cannot comprehend the event in that manner. It is not inherently wrong. It is wrong as a matter of interpretation. It is wrong as a matter of consequence . In the fifteenth century, the intensity of the global movement of colonisation increased. European explorers sailed across the oceans in search of new lands. W h e n these lands were "discovered", the "settlers" claimed ownership using legal doctr ines of their own legal system. Austral ia and C a n a d a were "discovered" in this manner. In both Austral ia and C a n a d a , indigenous peoples had owned and occupied the land for many thousands of years under their own legal systems. W h e n the settlers arrived and claimed ownership, a conflict arose. Two legal sys tems validated the occupat ion of the land by different nations but neither legal sys tem comprehended the other legal system. In some parts of C a n a d a , treaties were negotiated. These treaties were a process of conciliation made with an intention to develop a relationship that sufficiently recognised the rights of both parties under both legal systems. In Austral ia and in large parts of C a n a d a , including most of British Columbia , no treaties were negotiated. Instead, the British applied their laws without any recognition of indigenous law or conflict with indigenous law. xi Where treaties were negotiated in Canada, there was at least some recognition of two legal systems. Even though it is unlikely that either the coloniser or the First Nation had a detailed understanding of the content or manner of the other's legal system, they both recognised that another legal system existed. Essentially, this is an understanding of Drawing Number One. Both parties were able to comprehend a concept foreign to their holistic legal systems. In contrast, where there were no treaties, the colonisers suffer from the same problem as the adults who could not see Drawing Number One without the help of Drawing Number Two. In Australia and British Columbia, the colonial legal system was incapable of seeing, let alone comprehending, indigenous legal systems. The modern treaty process in British Columbia is an effort to make these adults, the "settlers" with imperialistic colonial ideologies, see and understand Drawing Number One. It is a process that requires a focus that is not centred on matters of consequence but provides room for the interaction of two legal systems. In Australia, a similar process is occurring with native title. However, since the first recognition of common law native title by the High Court of Australia in Mabo v Queensland {"Mabo (No. 2)")A in 1992, the Federal Government has severely restricted the breadth of native title by the implementation of and amendment to the "(1992) 175 CLR1 Xll Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).5 This process of increasing restrictions on native title rights and interests is arguably a result of an inability of the Austral ian Government and legal sys tem to see beyond matters, of consequence . It is an attempt to move from Drawing Number One , the Mabo (No. 2) decis ion, back to Drawing Number Two, the position prior to Mabo (No. 2). The drive behind this regression is an embedded view of the Austral ian legal system and its relationship with Aboriginal law. This world-view has become deeply ingrained in the Austral ian legal sys tem and despite the watershed dec is ion in Mabo (No. 2), it s eems difficult as a nation to maintain "true understanding". Austra l ian common law is premised upon the misconcept ion that it is the only legal sys tem operating in Austral ia. Without consideration of different cultural beliefs and laws, the Engl ish legal system was imposed on Aboriginal peoples and Austral ia w a s classified terra nullius, a land belonging to nobody. A s a result of terra nullius and the doctrine of discovery, Engl ish common law entered Australia without any impediments as if it was a legal vacuum, a space where no law operated. Self-government is a bridge between two legal systems, providing recognition of Aboriginal law through an Austra l ian legal doctrine. The doctrine of inherent Aboriginal self-government requires the Australian legal system to see something it has previously been incapable of seeing: Aboriginal law. It requires the Austral ian 5 The Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) was amended by the Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth), which implemented Prime Minister John Howard's infamous '10 Point Plan'. Xlll legal sys tem to understand that Aboriginal law exists as an equal but different legal sys tem. It does not require Austral ian law to understand the details of Aboriginal law. Rather, self-government provides recognition of Aboriginal law and Aboriginal decis ion-making, but does not detail the content. Aboriginal law determines the content of the right of self-government. This is similar to the challenge of Drawing Number One , which required adults to see beyond the limitations of their world-view. It demanded that adults recognise a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant whilst leaving the content and the details to the imagination. Likewise, self-government requires Austral ian law to recognise Aboriginal law but allow space for the details to be provided by Aboriginal law. It means that Austral ian law must take a step back and not demand knowledge of the details. In order to do this, as required of the adults, Austral ian law must let go of the fiction that it is the only legal system. This chal lenge is not insurmountable, because on close analysis , the legal system itself doesn't even abide by this fiction! Self-government is an opportunity for the Austral ian legal system to gain "true understanding" and attain a new level of critical self-awareness by letting go of certain "matters of consequence". What is needed is a change in the Austral ian world-view. The chal lenge is whether the Austral ian legal system is capable of the maturity and vision required to see Drawing Number O n e as the Little Pr ince did. xiv ACKNOWLEDGMENT This thesis has been supported by a fellowship from the Law Foundation of British Co lumbia and the kindness and academic wisdom of Professor Michae l J a c k s o n Q . C . and J im Aldridge Q . C . 1 Chapter One INTRODUCTION In 1989, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander C o m m i s s i o n ("ATSIC") was established to provide the opportunity for Indigenous people to be involved in the processes of government affecting their l ives. 1 To achieve this, indigenous representatives were elected to constitute the highest-level indigenous body. This was a major government initiative recognising indigenous self-determination. In addition to handling government funding, A T S I C has been an advocate for indigenous rights both nationally and internationally. Although there have been problems, the current Federal Opposi t ion has recognised that: . . . for many Indigenous Austral ians, A T S I C represents the only form of self-determination available to them. 2 O n 15 Apri l 2004, Pr ime Minister John Howard and Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs A m a n d a Vans tone announced that the Government was moving to abolish A T S I C . It will not be replaced. Instead, services are to be mainstreamed into government departments and a purely advisory group of indigenous leaders will be appointed. O n 27 M a y 2004, the first day of 1 Established by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 (Cth). 2 Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 1 June 2004, 29375 (Bob McMullan, Shadow Minister • for Finance and Small Business). 2 Reconcil iat ion Week and the anniversary of the 1969 referendum granting formal recognition of Aboriginal people as citizens, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Bill 2004 (Cth) ("the Bill") was introduced into Parl iament to abolish A T S I C . There have been protests and the Federal Opposi t ion has cal led for a Senate inquiry. The Government , however, has indicated their intention to implement these changes regardless of protests, inquiries or Senate de lays . 3 The Bill is currently before the Senate . The depth of the Federal Government ' s hostility towards indigenous rights was revealed in justifications given for abolishing A T S I C without replacement by either an elected body or a body established in consultation with indigenous people. Pr ime Minister John Howard , referring to A T S I C ' s "notorious . . . culture of favouritism and nepot ism" 4 revealed that: W e believe very strongly that the experiment in separate representation, elected representation, for indigenous people has been a failure ... I do believe that it has become too preoccupied with what might be loosely called symbol ic and rights issues and too little concerned with delivering real ou tcomes . 5 3 "Govt Presses Senate to Pass ATSIC Changes" ABC Newsonline, 27 May 2004 at <http://www.abc.net.au/news>. All electronic references are accurate as of 20 August 2004. 4 "Govt Moves to Sell ATSIC Decision" ABC Newsonline, 16 April 2004 at <http://www.abc.net.au/news>. 5 Karen Middleton & Charlie Wilson-Clark, "Problems Will Not Go Away, Says ATSIC", The West Australian (Perth), 16 April 2004 at 11. 3 A m a n d a Vanstone, in denying that the abolition of A T S I C deprives Aboriginal people of elected representation by referring to the fact that Aboriginal people vote in elections and are represented by their local member, made the additional point that: W h e n people say to me we have to have a separate system, I say 'there was a country once that we wouldn't play cricket with because they had a separate system, ' we just wouldn't go and play cricket with them if you reca l l . 6 The blatant associat ion between A T S I C , an early attempt at recognising indigenous self-determination and the only attempt to accommodate indigenous peoples within a political situation that has historically excluded and marginalised their communities, and apartheid is a frightening revelation of the current political climate in Austral ia . S h a d o w Minister B o b M c M u l l a n aptly descr ibed this hostile climate when he declared that the Bil l : . . . gives effect to the Prime Minister 's long held desire to dismantle every means available to Indigenous Austral ians to participate in decis ions about their future. 7 6 Kate Gauntlett & Charlie Wilson-Clark, "Apartheid Remark Attracts Ridicule", The West Australian (Perth), 17 April 2004 at 6. 7 Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 1 June 2004, 29374 (Bob McMullan, Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business). 4 In addition to this direct attack on self-determination, there is growing consensus that even native title, touted as the paramount recognition of Aboriginal rights, has failed. A n y hope for increased autonomy generated by the High Court ' s decis ion in Mabo v Queensland ("Mabo (No. 2)"f has been greatly diminished by the 1998 amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and the impact of the recent High Court decis ions in Western Australia v Ward ("Miriuwung Gajerrong")9 and Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v Victoria™ The Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) is deeply flawed and has been descr ibed by the Western Austral ian Deputy Premier as "a 400 page obstacle course" . 1 1 More recently, in the High Court decision in Miriuwung Gajerrong, both M c H u g h and Cal l inan J J were harshly critical of the current native title sys tem. Just ice M c H u g h wrote: The deck is s tacked against the native-title holders whose fragile rights must give way to the superior rights of the landholders whenever the two c la s ses of rights conf l ic t . . . It may be that the time has come to think of abandoning the 8 (1992) 175 CLR 1. 9 (2002) 191 ALR 1. 1 0 (2002) 194 ALR 538. 1 1 Eric Ripper, Deputy Premier, Western Australia, "Funding Rethink Needed for Faster Native Title Progress" Press Release (27 September 2002) quoted in Mick Dodson, "Native Title on the Precipice: The Implications of the High Court's Judgment on the Ward Case" (Paper presented at the ANU Institute for Indigenous Australia, Canberra, 17 October 2002) at <ni.anu.edu.au/docs/dodson.pdf>. 5 present system, a sys tem that simply seeks to declare and enforce the legal rights of the parties, irrespective of their mer i t s . 1 2 In addition to High Court justices voicing their concerns about the illusory benefits of native title; elders, politicians, activists, farmers and academic commentators have all declared the native title system a fa i lure . 1 3 Noel Pea r son stated: The concept of native title that the High Court has adopted has not destroyed native title, but the doors have been s lammed shut on its maturation as a legal institution. 1 4 What has emerged is a political environment that associa tes self-determination with apartheid, which denies Aboriginal rights on the basis of a disturbingly twisted notion of equality and renders native title rights and interests obsolete. It is because of this hostile political environment that legal solutions beyond the parameters of native title, rather than political solutions must be considered as a more viable means of 1 2 Above n 9 at 156. Justice Callinan, at 281, wrote: "I fear, however, that in many cases because of the chasm between the common law and native title rights, the latter, when recognised, will amount to little more than symbols." 1 3 Prominent critics include Mick Dodson, Geoff Clark and Noel Pearson. Mick Dodson is member of the Yawuru people of the southern Kimberley, Western Australia. He was Australia's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and is the former director of the Northern Land Council. He is a prominent advocate on land rights and other issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and has worked for the rights and interests of indigenous people worldwide through various roles with the United Nations. Geoff Clark was Chairman of ATSIC at the time it was disbanded. Noel Pearson is the former Executive Director of Cape York Land Council and currently involved with Cape York Partnerships. He was also involved in the drafting of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). See Mick Dodson, "Native Title on the Precipice: The Implications of the High Court's Judgment on the Ward Case" (Paper presented at the ANU Institute for Indigenous Australia, Canberra, 17 October 2002) at <ni.anu.edu.au/docs/dodson.pdf>. See also Rick Farley, "Australia Day Address" Reprinted from the Age (23 January 2003) at <http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/news/story32.html>. 1 4 Noel Pearson, 'Native Title's Day in the Sun is Over' The Age (Sydney), 28 August 2002. 6 readdressing the significant power imbalance that currently exists in Austra l ia between indigenous peoples and the wider Austral ian soc ie ty . 1 5 T H E INHERENT RIGHT OF ABORIGINAL S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T The question I consider in this thesis is whether or not there is a common law right of self-government in Austral ia . Before I examine this question, it is important to clarify terminology. Self-determination, self-management and self- government, al though often used interchangeably, are distinct concepts. Self-determination is a fundamental human right. 1 6 A s can be seen in numerous international documents, including the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ("Draft Declaration"), self-government is a necessary component of self-determination. 1 7 Article 3: Indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. B y virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their A power imbalance manifest in a lack of education, employment and healthcare options for Aboriginal people and in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. Australia, Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (Canberra: AGPS, 1991); See also Loretta Kelly, 'Reconciliation and the Implications for a Sovereign Aboriginal Nation' (1993) 3(61) Aboriginal Law Bulletin 10 at 11; Professor Daes, 'The Position of Indigenous People in National Constitutions Conference Report' (paper presented at the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Constitutional Centenary Foundation, Canberra, June 1993). The Draft Declaration is not binding even after its adoption by the General Assembly. Article 3 of the Draft Declaration reflects article 1 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 1 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 and entered into force in 1976. Other relevant articles of the Draft Declaration are 19 and 20. See also articles 4, 9, 21, 26 and 42. 7 political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Article 31: Indigenous peoples, as a specific form of exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, including culture, religion, education, information, media, health, housing, employment, socia l welfare, economic activities, land and resources management, environment and entry by non-members, as well as ways and means for financing these autonomous functions. [Emphasis added]. A s c a n be seen from Article 31 of the Draft Declaration, self-government is a fundamental aspect of the broader concept of self-determination. I do not explore the right of self-determination in this thesis. In Austral ia , after the ratification of international treaties, enabling legislation must be passed before any international legal rights are incorporated into the domest ic legal sys tem. G i v e n the current political climate and the necessity for political will in order to implement enabling legislation, the international arena does not provide a viable option for the implementation of self-government in Austral ia . Instead, I focus on the c o m m o n law right of self-government. Importantly, the relationship between self-determination and self-government indicates that the recognition of the c o m m o n law right of self-government is consistent with international human rights standards. 8 Self-management is a term often used in Austral ia to suggest that self-determination is being recognised. The latest manifestation of self-management is the current policy of "practical reconciliation". Self-management is a delegated right to make decis ions related to economic management and government expenditure. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs emphas ised that: Aboriginal people must understand that self-management means spending public money responsibly in ways which are accountable not only to the Aboriginal community as a whole, but to the public at l a rge . 1 8 Although self-government and self-management both involve the repossess ion of decis ion-making control by Aboriginal communit ies , the fundamental point of difference is that self-government is an inherent right whereas self-management is a delegated right. A n inherent right stems from Aboriginal law rather than a right that is delegated by Parliament or the sovereign Crown . T w o important consequences flow from the inherent nature of self-government. First, it recognises that Aboriginal law is fundamental in shaping the content and manner in which a right of self-government is exercised. This means that Aboriginal communit ies have the ability to make decis ions, unimpeded by government regulation. In contrast, delegated rights, like self-management, are rights derived 1 8 Christine Fletcher, Aboriginal Politics: Intergovernmental Relations (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1992) at 10. 9 from the sovereign Crown . These rights have been granted and therefore may also be withdrawn. The second important consequence of the inherent nature of self-government is that it acknowledges historical wrongs suffered by Aboriginal peoples, revalues Aboriginal culture and empowers marginalised Aboriginal communit ies in their move towards self-determination. Therefore, although structurally, self-government and the current self-management discourse may appear similar, the effect on the current power imbalance is not comparable . A n inherent right directly addresses historical wrongs and the underlying basis of the current power imbalance. A delegated right does not address these issues. From these definitions, it can be seen that self-government is distinct from both self-determination and self-management. Self-government addresses the fact that there is more than one complete legal sys tem operating within Austral ia: the Austral ian legal system and Aboriginal legal systems. Because these legal systems all operate in the same geographical space, they necessari ly overlap. Self-government is essentially the channel of communicat ion between two legal systems. It is the legal mechan i sm by which the Austral ian legal system recognises the existence and operation of Aboriginal legal systems. The inherent right of self-government acknowledges that Aboriginal peoples are entitled to control matters important to 10 their nations without intrusive interference. 1 9 It involves the fair and reasonable transition from government limitations imposed on Aboriginal communit ies and individuals to a modern, community based form of government . 2 0 However , the formal legal position is that only one legal system operates in Austral ia . The doctrine of self-government requires the Austral ian legal system to see something it has previously been incapable of seeing: Aboriginal law. M E T H O D O L O G Y In this thesis, I argue that the recognition of an inherent Aboriginal right of self-government is of crucial importance to Austral ia . I consider the potential for establishing an Aboriginal right of self-government as part of Austral ian c o m m o n law. S ince self-government has not been considered in depth in Austral ia, in developing this argument, I consider legal developments in C a n a d a . 2 1 Although Austral ia has a different legislative and constitutional structure to C a n a d a , has never s igned treaties with indigenous peoples and does not have a 1 9 Canada, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Renewal: A Twenty-Year Commitment, vol. 5 (Ottawa, Canadian Communication Group, 1996) at 1 - 2; Judy Pearsall & Bill Trumble (eds) The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, 2nd ed,- (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). 2 0 Bill Henderson, "A Brief Introduction to Aboriginal Law in Canada" (1996) at <http://www.bloorstreet.com/200block/brintro.htm>. 2 1 In this thesis, I use the term "Aboriginal" to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. In contrast, I use the term "aboriginal" to refer to the aboriginal peoples of Canada, including First Nations, Inuit and Metis. 11 constitutional provision comparable to section 35(1) of the Constitution Act 1982,22 as in C a n a d a , Aboriginal peoples have occupied the land as sovereign self-governing peoples prior to the assertion of sovereignty by the British Crown, customary law has been recognised by the Austral ian legal sys tem and common law native title is substantially similar to the Canad ian concept of aboriginal t i t le . 2 3 Moreover , in interpreting section 35(1) and determining the content of Aboriginal rights, Canad ian courts must have regard to the c o m m o n law. Aboriginal rights and title are common law rights that were given constitutional status in 1982. Therefore, section 35 jurisprudence that interprets common law rights that have developed from colonial common law is relevant to the interpretation of Austral ian common law rights that have also developed from British colonial common law. S o , despite constitutional and legislative differences, Austral ia can look to C a n a d a for the judicial reasoning on the source and continued existence of the right of self-government under the common law that the two countries share. In Chapter 2, I consider the problems that have appeared to prevent the recognition of self-government in Austral ia . This includes a lack of treaty making and the rejection of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty by the High Court. I consider the concept of sovereignty and distinguish between absolute sovereignty that exists in opposition to Austral ian sovereignty and modified sovereignty that is not incompatible with Austral ian sovereignty. Using the concept of modified sovereignty as the basis under 2 2 Section 35(1) states, "[t]he existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed." 2 3 See Kent, McNeil Common Law Aboriginal Title (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). 12 which self-government continues to exist in Austral ia , I analyse a series of High Court cases , and conclude that Aboriginal self-government, as opposed to absolute sovereignty, has not been considered, let alone rejected, by Austral ian courts. In Chapter 3, I consider the colonial origins of the c o m m o n law doctrine of self-government. I examine the articulation of this doctrine by Marshal l C J in Worcester v Georgia24 and consider its differing treatment in Austral ia and C a n a d a . I conclude that self-government did form part of the colonial c o m m o n law at the time it was imported into Austral ia . In Chapter 4, I analyse the revolutionary High Court decis ion in Mabo (No. 2) and the subsequent native title discourse. I chal lenge the manufactured division that has been drawn between land rights and sovereignty. I refer to two instances within native title jurisprudence that indicate the recognition of instances of self-government as a necessary component of native title. These instances illustrate that the recognition of common law self-government will not fracture the skeleton of the Austral ian legal s y s t e m . 2 5 In Chapter 5 , I consider the myth that Austral ia is not a legally pluralistic society. B y referring to a series of Supreme Court of N e w South W a l e s decis ions decided in the early colonial period, I indicate that at the time of colonisation, British law did 2 4 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832). 2 5 This is a reference to Justice Brennan's infamous quote in Mabo (No. 2). 13 recognise the existence of Aboriginal law. This recognition, which has continued throughout the development of the c o m m o n law, amounts to a recognition of legal pluralism. I argue that the recognition of self-government is necessary to address this legal plurality. Finally, in Chapter 6, I conclude that the Austral ian c o m m o n law can, and should, recognise the existence of an inherent right of Aboriginal self-government. 14 Chapter Two ABORIGINAL SOVEREIGNTY Prior to the British colonisation of Austral ia , Aboriginal peoples exercised sovereign authority over their lands and populations. Despite the impact of colonisation and the assert ion of British sovereignty over Austral ia , Aboriginal peoples retain modified sovereignty within Austral ia . Aboriginal peoples remain entitled to exercise jurisdiction over their lands and people as an exercise of the inherent right of self-government. This is true despite the fact that over the last thirty years, questions of the continuing exis tence of Aboriginal sovereignty have come before Austral ian courts on a number of occas ions . O n all of these occas ions , the Court denied the continuing existence of Aboriginal sovereignty. The two major cases rejecting Aboriginal sovereignty were brought before the High Court by Aboriginal plaintiffs, both of the Wiradjuri nation and in fact, brother and sister. The first major case , brought by Paul C o e , was rejected by the High Court in Coe v Commonwealth (1979) ("Coe (No. 7 / ) . 1 The second major case, brought by Isabelle C o e after the landmark decis ion in Mabo 1 (1979) 24 ALR 118. 15 (No. 2),2 was also rejected by the High Court in Coe v Commonwealth (1993) ("Coe (No. 2J").3 In fact, in these cases the Court rejected ambitious claims of overarching Aboriginal sovereignty, interpreting Aboriginal sovereignty as necessari ly adverse to that of the C r o w n . 4 The term sovereignty, however, is complex and has multiple meanings. The High Court 's rejection of Aboriginal sovereignty relied on a notion of sovereignty that required the existence of a separate state recognisable by international law. But there are concepts of sovereignty that do not require an independent state recognisable by international law. Aboriginal sovereignty should be properly conceived as modified sovereignty that is not in opposition to the Austral ian state. S u c h a notion of Aboriginal sovereignty, which continues in a modified form after colonial contact, is a source of the common law right of self-government that continues to exist today. B y distinguishing between absolute sovereignty and modified sovereignty, it becomes apparent that these High Court cases rejected absolute sovereignty but did not consider, let alone reject, the continuing existence of modified Aboriginal sovereignty. ABORIGINAL SOVEREIGNTY PRIOR TO COLONIAL C O N T A C T 2 Mabo v Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1. 3 (1993) 118 ALR 193. A See Jacobs J in Coe (No. 1) above n 1 at 133 and Mason CJ in Coe (No. 2) above n 3 at 200. 16 Prior to the arrival of the British in Austral ia , Aboriginal peoples were sovereign, self-governing nations. They owned and occupied the land and governed their societ ies according to unique systems of Aboriginal customary law. However , as Henry Reyno lds asks , were Aboriginal tribes sovereign under the law of nations in 1 7 7 0 ? 5 Relying on Christ ian Wolffs "The Law of Nations", one of the definitive works on international law in the mid-eighteenth century, Reynolds argues that Wolf fs work directly contradicts many of the assumptions underpinning the legal basis and justification for the British annexation of Aus t ra l ia . 6 Conced ing that colonial judges may not have been aware of Wolffs work, Reynolds considers the work of Wol f f s student, Emmer ich de Vattel, who was known to the colonial judiciary. 7 Reynolds points out that Vattell 's work is internally inconsistent. He criticises judicial reliance on this logically problematic work to justify the colonisation of Aus t ra l i a . 8 Reynolds observes that Vattel is: . . . more frequently cited than any other writer because he is more access ible , and because his doctrines are so loosely expressed that it is easy to find in his book detached passages in favour of either side of the ques t ion . 9 5 Henry Reynolds, Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1996) at 39. ("Reynolds: Aboriginal Sovereignt/). e tod at 52. 7 Ibid. This can be seen in Burton J's judgment in R v Murrell (1836) 1 Legge 72. Reynolds argues that Justice Burton's casenotes show that he was "totally dependent on Vattel whose book may have been the only work of international law available to him". The work was Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations of the Principles of Natural Law: Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns (vol. 3,1758 ed) book 1. s Ibid. 9 Ibid referring to R. Wildmand, Institutes of International Law, (London, 1849). 17 Reynolds notes that commentators often insist that questions that challenge the validity and justice of colonisation must be considered in light of the legal rules at the time, on the assumption that these legal rules support the colonisers. But, as Reynolds argues, international law did not in fact support the colonisers. Reynolds concludes that: . . . had the law been applied with more impartiality it would have been possible to accord to the Aborigines both land ownership and sovereignty. The individual tribes, although very small , occupied discrete territories, which they had defended against interlopers. They had existed for a long time and they were civil societies ih which law was normally obeyed and transgression was punished. They had sovereignty according to the law of the time and performed what later writers a s sumed to be the fundamental roles of government, which Sa lmond in his c lass ica l study Jurisprudence defined as war and the administration of justice - defence against external enemies on the one hand and on the other, the 'maintenance of peaceable and orderly relations within the community i t se l f . 1 0 Austral ian courts have recently indicated support for Henry Reynold 's position that Aboriginal people were sovereign prior to British colonisation. Austral ian courts have wlbida\ 55. 18 accepted Aboriginal people as the first occupants of the l and . 1 1 Courts have also accepted that prior to colonisation Aboriginal people were governed by laws. In Milirrpum v Nabalco,n Blackburn J recognised that the Yo lgnu were governed by a sys tem of l a w . 1 3 Further, in R v Walker,™ the N e w South Wa le s Court of Criminal A p p e a l admitted as a matter of historical fact that before and after 1770, the Nunekel people occupied Stradbroke Island and had a system of government and l a w s . 1 5 Finally, the High Court appears to have accepted prior Aboriginal sovereignty in Mabo (No. 2), where Brennan J stated: The Pacific Islanders Protection Acts of 1872 and 1875 (Imp.) were enacted to stamp out blackbirding and to confer on a High Commiss ioner ' s Court jurisdiction over British subjects in the islands of the Western Pacific. However , the 1875 Act express ly d isavowed "any claim or title whatsoever to dominion or sovereignty over any such islands or places" and any intention "to derogate from the rights of the tribes or people inhabiting such islands or places, or of chiefs or rulers thereof, to such sovereignty or dominion". [Emphasis added] . 1 6 11 Mabo (No. 2) above n 2. 12 Milirrpum v Nabalco (1971) 17 FLR141. 13 /b/dat 268. i"Ri/Wa/ter[1989]2Qd. R 7 9 15 Ibid at 80. The High Court in Walker v New South Wales (1994) 182 CLR 45 did not question this finding. 1 6 Above n 2 at 19. 19 Austra l ian courts have accepted that Aboriginal people were the first occupants , had a sys tem of government and laws and exercised "sovereignty or dominion" over Austral ia . It is not contentious that Aboriginal people were living on the land now known as Austral ia , governed by law, before British colonisat ion. They owned and occupied the land and governed their societies according to unique sys tems of Aboriginal customary law. Therefore, prior to the British occupat ion of Austral ia , Aboriginal peoples were sovereign, self-governing peoples. The question then becomes , what exactly was the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal sovereignty? T H E IMPACT OF COLONISATION ON ABORIGINAL SOVEREIGNTY There are essentially three schools of thought regarding the impact that British colonisation and the assertion of Crown sovereignty had on the sovereignty of Aboriginal people in Austral ia . The three positions variously assert that colonisation did not affect Aboriginal sovereignty, colonisation impacted and modified Aboriginal sovereignty and colonisation extinguished Aboriginal sovereignty. The first school of thought advocates that Aboriginal sovereignty remains wholly intact despite colonisation in Austral ia . This argument is based on a chal lenge to the legal fiction of terra nullius, applied explicitly in Austral ia and purportedly rejected in 1992 in the High Court decis ion of Mabo (No. 2)?1 If the doctrine of discovery and 1 7 Terra nullius means "land belong to no-one" or "empty land". This doctrine was applied retrospectively to Australia to justify the classification of Australia as a "settlement" under the doctrine of discovery and the subsequent usurpation of 20 terra nullius were not applied correctly, then the assertion of Crown sovereignty is questionable. However, despite the merits of this position, the series of High Court decis ions, beginning with Coe (No. 1), explicitly reject notions of Aboriginal sovereignty that challenge Crown sovereignty. The second school of thought is based upon a concept of modified sovereignty. It is also referred to as "shared", "merged" or "diminished" sovereignty. This position recognises that Aboriginal sovereignty continues to exist and remains in a modified form despite the assertion of Crown sovereignty. This is the position taken by the Canad i an Royal Commiss ion on Aboriginal Peoples ( " R C A P " ) . 1 8 It is also consistent with Aboriginal voices that have long asserted Aboriginal sovereignty. It is on this basis that a right of self-government exists. This is the position I take in developing the argument for the common law recognition of an inherent right of self-government. In developing this position, I respond to a third school of thought that denies the continued existence of Aboriginal sovereignty. This was the position consistently taken by government in C a n a d a and remains the position of government in sovereignty. For a challenge to the standard interpretation of Mabo (No. 2) as constituting a rejection of terra nullius, see David Ritter, "The Rejection of Terra Nullius in Mabo: A Critical Analysis" (1996) 18 Sydney L Rev 5. See also Western Sahara (Advisory Opinion) [1975] ICJ Rep 12. 1 8 See Canada, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Restructuring the Relationship, vol 2:2 (Ottawa: Canada Commuication Group, 1996) ("Restructuring the Relationship"); Canada, Partners in Confederation: Aboriginal Peoples, Self-Government and the Constitution (Ottawa: Canada Communication Group, 1993) ('Partners in Confederation"). See also the concept of diminished sovereignty and domestic dependent nations articulated by Marshall CJ in Johnson v Mcintosh 21 U.S. (8 Wheat) 543 (1823), Cherokee Nation v Georgia 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1 (1831) and Worcester v Georgia 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832). These cases are collectively referred to as the "Marshall trilogy". 21 A u s t r a l i a . 1 9 It is also the position often, but mistakenly, attributed to the High Court of Austral ia . Proponents of this position argue that the assertion of Crown sovereignty completely extinguished Aboriginal sovereignty. However , if this did not completely extinguish Aboriginal sovereignty, the Commonwealth Constitution20 exhaustively divided all governmental powers and therefore there is no constitutional space for Aboriginal sovereignty or Aboriginal self-government. T h e s e are ill-founded, unsubstantiated assertions that I consider and reject in this chapter. The fundamental difference between these three schools of thought, apart from the obvious discrepancies regarding the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal sovereignty, is differing interpretations of the term "sovereignty". In order to clearly delineate these positions, the concept of sovereignty must be examined . T w o prominent and contemporary sovereignty scholars, F . H . Hinsley and Hideaki Sh inoda , provide an introductory understanding of the complexity and dynamic nature of sovereignty. 2 1 SOVEREIGNTY: MYRIAD MEANINGS 1 9 For a good summary of these arguments, made by the then Leader of the Opposition and the current Premier of British Columbia, and their rejection, see Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333 at 351 -355. 20 Commonwealth of Australian Constitution Act 1900 ("Commonwealth Constitution"). 2 1 The texts I consider are F.H. Hinsley, Sovereignty, 2 n d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) and Hideaki Shinoda, Re-Examining Sovereignty (London: MacMillan Press, 2000). See also Hans Kelsen "Sovereignty and International Law" in W.J. Stankiewicz, In Defense of Sovereignty (London: Oxford University Press, 1969) at 115 and K.W.B. Middleton, "Sovereignty in Theory and Practice" in W.J. Stankiewicz, In Defense of Sovereignty'(London: Oxford University Press, 1969) at 132. 22 Sovereignty is the most glittering and controversial notion in the history, doctrine and practice of public international law. Its meaning has oscillated throughout the history of law and of the state since medieval times22 Schola r s debate the origin of the concept of sovere ignty . 2 3 However, as F . H . Hinsley notes, the semantic difficulties associated with the term are exacerbated by the tendency to assume that when an ancient term is still in use, its meaning has not changed over t ime . 2 4 Hinsley suggests that: The term sovereignty originally and for a long time expressed the idea that there is a final and absolute authority in the political communi ty . 2 5 Hideaki Sh inoda argues that the notion of sovereignty appeared in Europe in order to represent the privileged status of kings and that it was much later that sovereignty w a s d i scussed in connection with states. Sh inoda sees the term "sovereignty" as emanat ing from the decline of the sense of Chr is tendom. He explains that in the Middle A g e s , "sovereign" was used not in its modern sense, but to mean "superior" and that any superior was sove re ign . 2 6 In England, the Engl ish word "souerein" or 2 2 Steinberger, "Sovereignty" in Encyclopedia for Public International Law, vol. 4 (Elsevier: North-Holland, 2000) at 500. 2 3 See F.H. Hinsley, Sovereignty, 2 n d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) at 22 for a.discussion on the disagreement as to whether it originated in classical Greece or Western Europe in the 13 , h century. 2"/b/c/at22. 25 Ibid at 1. For elaboration, see ibid at 26. 2 6 Hideaki Shinoda, Re-Examining Sovereignty (London: MacMillan Press, 2000) at 9 referring to Bertrand de Jounveney into the Political Good, Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good, trans. By J.F. Huntingdon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957) at 171. 23 "soverayne", which had derived from."super", acquired the letter "g" by associat ion with "reigning". 2 7 Despite debates as to the exact origin of the word or its particular meaning at any given time, Shinoda , in contrast to Hinsley, argues that: Before the sixteenth century the idea of sovereignty was not established as a principle of the political community, and of international society. Only in the process of modernity did people consciously understand it as such . It was in this process that the idea of state sovereignty took shape in people 's minds and constituted their thoughts and behav iours . 2 8 Other scholars refer to Aristotle's concept of the supreme power as an early definition of sovereignty. Aristotle used the term to identify the supreme authority within a communi ty . 2 9 This definition does not associate sovereignty with the state. It is also consistent with its popular contemporary definition referring to the status under which a people have effective political control over the matters that concern t h e m . 3 0 Using this-broader definition, sovereignty is the authority to govern a community, which may be absolute or limited. Despite the variety of definitions and the debate regarding the origins of the term, sovereignty is predominantly associated with the state and international legal norms. 27 Ibid at 9 referring to Walter W. Skeat, An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, new ed. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1924) at 584. 28 /fo/d at 10 -11. 2 9 Above n 22 at 503. 3 0 Garth Nettheim, "Sovereignty and Aboriginal Peoples" (1991) 2:53 Aboriginal Law Bulletin 4 at 5. 24 This association, an association the High Court relied on, must be critically examined in order to understand why this is often considered to be the only definition of sovereignty. 25 International Law, Sovereignty and the State The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 is often referred to as the beginning of the traditional international system. A n important concept in this state-centric sys tem is sovereignty. Sovereignty, as it has been interpreted from the Peace of Westphalia, is capable of existence only within societies in which there is a state, where a state is a body that is recognisable by international law as an international legal actor. Sh inoda distinguishes between "sovereignty" and "state sovereignty", recognising there are multiple notions of sovereignty. He argues, "the study of sovereignty is the study of an idea" . 3 1 Sh inoda defines state sovereignty as a notion in contemporary international law of a juristic person that includes a government, permanent population, defined territory and the capacity to enter relations with other s ta tes . 3 2 Hinsley, however, limits the notion of sovereignty to state sovereignty: The concept of sovereignty will not be found in societies in which there is no s ta te . 3 3 / 3 1 Above n 26 at 3. 32 Ibid at 7. Shinoda's definition of state reflects Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States, 26 December 1933. 3 3 Above n 23 at 22. 26 Hinsley takes a conventional approach to sovereignty. He regards the notion of state as an advanced form of society. It is only at the point where a society advances to a state that the idea of sovereignty emerges . This concept of sovereignty depends on whether the state overcomes the resistance of "customary society". Hinsley relies on the assumption that there is an evolutionary transition from a stateless society to a society ruled by a state and that the state only occurs in "advanced communi t ies" . 3 4 He declares that there is an: . . . absence of any notion of sovereignty in the primitive s tages of political soc ie t i es . 3 5 In describing the difference between primitive and advanced communit ies , he refers to Aboriginal Austral ia: . . . even the Austral ian aborigines whose various clans meet together from time to time in religious assembl ies which have some power to regulate disputes between the groups . . . may be regarded as being a recognizable if impermanent government system, and thus a recognizable if minimal version of the s tate . 3 6 3 4 /b/d at 3. 35 /b/d at 2. 36 Ibid at 5. 27 Despite conceding that Austral ian Aboriginal societies may be considered as a state, he denies that sovereignty could exist in such a primitive society or primitive state where the state has not overcome the resistance of customary society. Hinsley argues that the difference between primitive and advanced societies is as qualitatively decis ive as the difference between a man and a cockroach . To argue that the stateless society and the society ruled by the state are essentially similar in respect of their political institutions is no more helpful in the field of political sc ience than would be a statement in the field of natural sc ience that a man and a cockroach are essentially in the same family because they both have legs and need to ea t . 3 7 Hinsley 's argument is based on Eurocentric historical determinism and social Darwinism. Sh inoda responds to Hinsley, arguing that sovereignty does not rely on the evolution of primitive soc ie ty . 3 8 .He rejects the interpretation that African stateless societ ies are merely premature forms of modern European s ta tes . 3 9 Sh inoda rejects this assumption as archaic and argues that European domination is a product of politics and power. I agree with Shinoda . Hinsley's distinction between primitive and advanced communit ies is unacceptable in contemporary society where social Darwinism has been adamantly rejected. 37 Ibid at 7. For the full argument, see ibid at 4 3 8 Above n 26 at 3 referring to above n 23 at 1 39 Ibid at 4 -7 . -26. 28 Contemporary Notions of Sovereignty It is perplexing that sovereignty and state are conceived as interconnected, inseparable notions given the divergent historical understandings of the term "sovereignty". Although there is a strong history of relationship between these two terms, the contemporary understanding is often more in line with its ancient usage, particularly the definition expounded by Aristotle, than with its use in the Westphal ian legal sys tem. There have been two recent chal lenges to this notion of state sovereignty: globalisation and indigenous rights movements . First, the increasing interconnectedness of the world and decreasing border controls have resulted in scholars questioning whether the notion of sovereignty remains useful in an ever-increasingly globablised w o r l d . 4 0 A s international bodies, such as the United Nations and the European Union, increase in power, a tension develops between state sovereignty and the ultimate decision-makers . States become bound by international regulations and at t imes are forced to comply with international legal norms. If sovereignty means that the state is the ultimate decision-maker, then globalisation has placed a limit on sovereignty. Secondly , Aristotle's broader definition of sovereignty that does not rely on a state is consistent with the manner in which Aboriginal people in Austral ia often use the term 4 0 Dianne Otta, "A Question of Law or Politics? Indigenous Claims to Sovereignty in Australia" [1995] 21 Syracuse Journal of International Law & Commerce 65. More generally, see Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). 29 sovereignty. Aboriginal people, including elders, leaders and activists, often refer to their sovereignty or describe themselves as sovereign peop les . 4 1 For example , Lar i s sa Behrendt, at the Indigenous Bar Associa t ion conference in Ottawa in 2000, stated: It is perhaps because we have never been acknowledged as a sovereign people that the notion of sovereignty has become so important to us. W e use the term "sovereignty" in a way that has made the word our own, an express ion of the very particular, quite unique way in which we see our future. In answer to the question "What do you want?" many Indigenous people will reply "First we have to have our sovereignty recognised" . 4 2 Despite the complexit ies of this sovereignty debate, three deductions may be drawn. First, sovereignty is a complex, dynamic term that has been associated with different meanings over centuries. Secondly , there is a tendency to associate sovereignty with the state, as occurs in international law. Finally, sovereignty is not limited, historically or contemporarily, to notions of the state. 4 1 This is particularly evident in Michael Mansell's statements. See Michael Mansell, "They Can Keep Their Justice - We'll Keep Our Country: the APG View" (paper presented to the Aboriginal Justice Issues conference in Cairns, June 1992) [unpublished] at 9. The APG is the Aboriginal Provisional Government. See also Michael Mansell, "The Bicentenary and Aboriginal Sovereignty" (1988) Law Institute Journal 1206; Noel Pearson, "Reconciliation To Be or Not To Be: Separate Aboriginal Nationhood or Aboriginal Self-Determination and Self-Government Within the Australian Nation?" (1993) 3:61 Aboriginal Law Bulletin 14; Geoff Clark, "Launch of ATSIC Treaty Documents" (lecture presented at Parliament House in Melbourne, 8 May 2001) [unpublished] at 12. 4 2 Larissa Behrendt, "Slicing the Circle: Treaty, Native Title, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Compartmentalizing of Indigenous Rights in Australia" (Paper presented to the Indigenous Bar Association Conference in Ottawa, 2000) [unpublished] at 4. See also Australia, Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs: Two Hundred Years Later...Report on the Feasibility of a Compact or 'Makaratta' between the Commonwealth and Aboriginal People. Parliamentary Paper No. 107/1983. (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Services, 1983). 30 Moving Beyond the Realm of State Sovereignty In order to clearly distinguish absolute state sovereignty from continuing but modified Aboriginal sovereignty, I consider the notion of modified sovereignty that was comprehensively articulated by the Royal C o m m i s s i o n on Aboriginal Peop les ( " R C A P " ) . 4 3 R C A P summarised the argument for the recognition of self-government. At the time of European contact, aboriginal peoples were sovereign and independent peoples, possess ing their own territories, political sys tems and customary laws. Al though colonial rule modified this situation, it did not deprive aboriginal peoples of their inherent right of self-government, which formed an integral part of their cultures. This right continued to exist, in the absence of clear and plain legislation to the contrary. Al though in many cases the right was curtailed and tightly regulated, it was never completely extinguished. [Emphasis added] . 4 4 Just ice Binnie adopted R C A P ' s argument that aboriginal sovereignty continues to exist beyond colonisation in a modified form, providing the foundation of the inherent 4 3 See Restructuring the Relationship above n 18 and Partners in Confederation above n 18. Restructuring the Relationship formed part of RCAP's final report. Partners in Confederation, a discussion paper, dealt with the original status of Aboriginal peoples and the effect of the Constitutional Act 1982. In describing the original status of Aboriginal people, reference was made to the recognition of Aboriginal law by the courts, particularly the 1867 decision of Connolly v Woolrich (1867) 11 LCJ197, the signing of treaties and the Royal Proclamation of 1763. RCAP then considered whether self-government was an Aboriginal right under section 35(1) of the Constitution Act 1982. 44 Restructuring the Relationship above n 18 at 202. 31 right of self-government, in the Supreme Court of C a n a d a decis ion in Minister of National Revenue v Grand Chief Michael Mitchell also known as Kanentakeron (2001)45 Binnie J , writing for himself and Major J , introduced the concept of "shared sovereignty" between aboriginal people and the federal and provincial governments in his dissenting judgment. Although R C A P refers to merged sovereignty and Binnie J to shared sovereignty, I use the term modified sovereignty to include both of these terms. Grand Chief Michael Mitchell is a Mohawk of A k w e s a s n e . A k w e s a s n e lies at the "jurisdictional epicentre of the St. Lawrence River and straddles the Canada-Uni ted States border, as well as provincial and state borders ." 4 6 Grand Chief Mitchell c rossed the international border between the United States and C a n a d a with goods purchased in the United States. He declared the goods but asserted that aboriginal and treaty rights exempted him from paying duty. Mitchell was served with a claim for unpaid duty and sought declaratory relief. The Federal Court, at first instance, held that he had an aboriginal right to c ross the border freely without having to pay customs duties on goods destined for personal and community use and noncommercial trade with other First Nations. The Federal Court of A p p e a l affirmed an aboriginal right to bring goods into C a n a d a duty-free, subject to limitations based on evidence of the traditional range of Mohawk trading. The Supreme Court of 45 Minister of National Revenue v Grand Chief Michael Mitchell also known as Kanentakeron [2001] 1 S.C.R. 911. 4 5 tod at 915. 32 C a n a d a held that the aboriginal right had not been established and that Mitchell must pay duty. Only Justice Binnie considered the issue of aboriginal sovereignty. He noted that Mitchell did not dispute Canad i an sovereignty but sought Mohawk autonomy within the broader framework of Canad ian sovereignty. He classified the claim as not a claim for freedom of movement, but rather an aspiration to live as if the international boundary did not ex is t . 4 7 He stated: If the principle of "merged sovereignty" articulated by the Roya l C o m m i s s i o n on Aboriginal Peoples is to have any true meaning, it must include at least the idea that aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canad ians together form a sovereign entity with a measure of common purpose and united effort. It is this new entity, as inheritor of the historical attributes of sovereignty, with which existing aboriginal and treaty rights must be reconciled. The constitutional objective is reconciliation not mutual isolation. What is significant is that the Royal Commiss ion itself s ees aboriginal people as full participants with non-aboriginal peoples in a shared Canad ian sovereignty. Aboriginal peoples do not stand in opposition to, nor are they subjugated by, Canad i an sovereignty. They are part of i t . 4 8 4 7 /b/dat915 - 916. <* Ibid aim. 33 In summary, modified Aboriginal sovereignty recognises that Aboriginal people were sovereign people prior to colonisation, but that colonisation has had a modifying and diminishing impact on Aboriginal sovereignty and the ability to exercise unlimited jurisdiction. Modified Aboriginal sovereignty recognises that Aboriginal people retain and exercise governmental and jurisdictional powers. Therefore, in the context of Austral ia , modified Aboriginal sovereignty is simply the idea that Aboriginal people retain at least some sovereignty over their traditional l a n d . 4 9 In this thesis, I use the term absolute sovereignty to describe sovereignty that requires a state and is grounded in the Westphal ian international legal s y s t e m . 5 0 This is distinguishable from modified sovereignty that exists independent of a state recognisable by international law. SOVEREIGNTY CONSIDERED BY AUSTRALIAN C O U R T S The High Court of Australia has rejected claims of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty in several cases : Coe (No. 7J , 5 1 Wacando v Commonwealth (1981) , 5 2 Coe (No. 2) and Walker v New South Wales (1994) . 5 3 4 9 Stephen Gray, "Planting the Flag or Burying the Hatchet: Sovereignty and the High Court Decision in Mabo v Queensland" (1993) 2 Griffith Law Review 39 at 63. 5 0 Unless otherwise indicated, absolute state sovereignty or Westphalian sovereignty are merely alternate expressions for absolute sovereignty. 5 1 In fact, the question of Aboriginal sovereignty came before the courts for the first time in the modern era in R v Wedge [1976] 1 NSWLR 581. In defending a murder charge, the defence argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The New South Wales Supreme Court held that the Aboriginal people of Australia were not a sovereign people and were subject to New South Wales' law. Prior to this decision, in the 1830's, the New South Wales Supreme Court 34 The accepted interpretation of these cases , that the High Court rejected the existence of Aboriginal sovereignty in any form whatsoever in these cases , must be chal lenged. By considering the nature of the question before the Court, identifying the underlying assumptions on which the High Court relies and critically examining subsequent interpretations, it becomes apparent that these cases reject absolute Aboriginal sovereignty. These cases do not reject modified Aboriginal sovereignty, which provides the foundation for the recognition of a common law inherent right of Aboriginal self-government. C o e v Commonwealth (No. 1) (1979) Pau l C o e , a prominent Aboriginal lawyer and act ivis t , 5 4 issued a writ out of the High Court of Austral ia against the Australian and British Governments . C o e sought declarat ions and relief, purportedly on behalf of "the Aboriginal people of Austral ia", for the occupation, settlement and continued dealing in Austral ian lands by the Austral ian and British Governments . In particular, he sought a declaration that all land occupied and used by Aboriginal people remains "at the absolute c o m m a n d of considered the existence of Aboriginal sovereignty in a trilogy of cases that considered the applicability of British criminal law to intra-Aboriginal disputes. For further details, see Chapter 5. 5 2 (1981) 148 CLR 1. 5 3 (1994) 182 CLR 45. 5 4 Paul Coe was formerly the Chairman of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW) and has always been very politically active. In January 1972, Paul Coe, Gary Foley and Dennis Walker announced the formation of the Black Panther Party of Australia. Coe was also involved in the establishment of the tent embassy. See David Hollingsworth, Race and Racism in Australia (Katoomba: Social Sciences Press, 1998) at 175. 3 5 the Aboriginal people free from interference" and that all legislation allowing for land transfers or mining be declared invalid. C o e also sought an injunction to prevent the Government from mining, as well as compensat ion to "the Aboriginal nation" for the deprivation of proprietary and religious rights and for interference with their culture, religion, customs, language and way of l i fe . 5 5 C o e applied for leave to amend the statement of claim. The proposed amendments asserted Aboriginal sovereignty and invoked section 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution.5® "On behalf of the Aboriginal community and nation of Aus t r a l i a " , 5 7 C o e claimed Britain had wrongfully claimed sovereignty, possess ion and occupat ion over Austral ia . A n alternative statement of claim alleged that the proclamations by Capta in J a m e s Cook in 1770 and Capta in Arthur Phillip in 1788 amounted to claims of conquest and that therefore the radical title vested in the C r o w n was subject to the rights and interests of "the Aboriginal nation". The first defendant, Austral ia , filed an appearance and the second defendant, Great Britain, applied to have the statement of claim struck out. This claim was brought under the original jurisdiction of the High Court. A s a result, the statement of claim was considered at first instance by a single High Court judge. This decis ion was appealed. The question before the Court, at first instance and on 5 5 Above n 1 at 120 - 127. See the prayer for relief in the statement of claim that is set out in full in Justice Gibb's judgment. On appeal, the parties consented to treat the proposed amended statement of claim as if it were a duly delivered statement of claim. As a result, the application to strike was treated as if it related to a duly delivered statement of claim. 5 6 Section 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution is the freedom of religion provision. 5 7 Above n 1 at 120, from paragraph 1A of the proposed amended statement of claim. 36 appeal , w a s whether the statement of claim contained a cause of action and if so, whether leave should be granted to amend the statement of c la im. T h e High Court expressed substantive issues in the context of these procedural issues. Sitting alone at first instance, M a s o n J d ismissed the application for leave to amend the statement of c laim. O n appeal , the High Court divided 2 to 2. G ibbs and Aick in J J held that the appeal should be d ismissed and denied leave to amend whilst J a c o b s and Murphy J J granted leave to amend. Pursuant to section 23(2)(a) of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth), M a s o n J 's decis ion at first instance, refusing leave to amend the plaintiff's statement of claim, was aff i rmed. 5 8 There were two key points of departure between the majority and the minority. First, G ibbs and Aick in J J (who, with M a s o n J , the judge at first instance, constituted the majority) considered it settled law that Britain acquired the Austral ian colonies by settlement, and not conquest, under the doctrine of discovery, as expressed by the Privy Counc i l in Cooper v Stuart.59 J acobs and Murphy J J on the other hand held that the position in Cooper v Stuart was open for question 6 0 Secondly , G ibbs and Aick in J J held that the amended statement of claim was "repetitious, confused and obscure and in some respects inconsistent within i t s e l f . 6 1 They held that the greater 5 8 Section 23(2)(a) requires that where the Court is equally divided in opinion, that the decision appealed from shall be affirmed. However, the court report incorrectly cited section 23(2)(b) as the relevant provision. Section 23(2)(b) applies to cases other than those on appeal and requires that the opinion of the chief justice or the senior justice prevails. a> (1889) 14 App Cas 286 at 291. 6 0 They held that the claim to proprietary and possessory rights to land recognised by the common law was sufficiently pleaded. Cooper v Stuart was ultimately overruled in Mabo (No. 2). 6 1 Above n 1 at 118. 37 part of the amended statement of claim was embarrass ing and did not d isc lose a cause of action. J acobs and Murphy J J held that there was no discretion to strike out the whole of a statement of claim if it d isc losed a cause of ac t ion . 6 2 Despite these differences, all four judges agreed that the challenge to the assert ion of C r o w n sovereignty w a s non-justiciable in the High Court of Australia. G ibbs and Aick in J J held that the annexation of the east coast of Australia by Captain C o o k in 1770 and subsequent acts that consolidated the Austral ian continent as a dominion of the Crown "were acts of state the validity of which could not be cha l lenged" . 6 3 Likewise , J a c o b s J rejected the chal lenge to the assertion of British sovereignty over Austral ia because "sovereignty alleged to be possessed by the Aboriginal nat ion" 6 4 w a s "formulated as a claim based on a sovereignty adverse to the C r o w n . " 6 5 J a c o b s J held that the validity of the Crown 's claim of sovereignty and sovereign possess ions were "not matters of municipal law but of the law of nations and are not cognisable in a court exercising jurisdiction under that sovereignty which is sought to be cha l lenged ." 6 6 Although Murphy J agreed generally with Jacobs J , he did not deal specifically with the sovereignty c l a i m . 6 7 However, Murphy J was of the opinion that 62 Ibid. 63 Ibid at 128 per Gibbs J referring to New South Wales v Commonwealth (1975) 135 CLR 377 at 388 ("the Seas and Submerged Lands Case") where Gibbs J stated that, "[t]he acquisition of territory by a sovereign state for the first time is an act of state which cannot be challenged, controlled or interfered with by the courts of that state." Therefore, submissions recognising the operation of Aboriginal legal systems in Australia, which challenge the authority and legitimacy of the Australian legal system and its status as the sole legal system in Australia, have been considered non-justiciable. 6 4 tod at 132. 6 5 tod at 133. 6 6 tod at 132. 6 7 tod at 138. 38 the plaintiff could argue that the acquisit ion of sovereignty did not extinguish Aboriginal ownership rights. Just ice Gibbs wrote the leading judgment in Coe (No. 1). In denying leave to amend the statement of claim, he denied the existence and applicability of common law concepts of domestic dependent nations, self-government and Aboriginal sovereignty. Chief Just ice Marshal l , in the famous trilogy of Johnson v Mcintosh,68 Worcester v Georgia69 and Cherokee Nation v Georgia,70 expressed these concepts in the context of the British colonisation of the United States. In rejecting C o e ' s claim to absolute sovereignty, G i b b s J , referred to and distinguished Marshal l C J ' s judgment in Cherokee Nation v Georgia. G ibbs J , in the following key passage, wrote: If the amended statement of claim intends to suggest either that the legal foundation of the Commonwea l th is insecure, or that the powers of the Parliament are more limited than is provided in the Constitution, or that there is an Aboriginal nation which has sovereignty over Austral ia , it cannot be supported. In fact, we were told in argument, it is intended to claim that there is an Aboriginal nation which has sovereignty over its own people, notwithstanding that they remain citizens of the Commonweal th ; in other words, it is sought to treat the Aboriginal people of Austral ia as a domestic 68 Johnson v Mcintosh (1823) 21 US (8 Wheat) 543. 69 Worcester v Georgia (1832) 31 US (6 Pet) 515. 70 Cherokee Nation v Georgia (1831) 30 US (5 Pet) 1. 39 dependent nation, to use the express ion which Marshal l C J applied to the Cherokee Nation of Indians: Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia (1831), 5 Pet 1, at p 17. However the history of the relationships between the white settlers and the Aboriginal people has not been the s ame in Austral ia and in the United States, and it is not possible to say, as was said by Marshal l C J , at p. 16, of the Cherokee Nation, that the Aboriginal people of Austral ia are organised as a "distinct political society separated from others", or that they have been uniformly treated as a state. The judgments in that case therefore provide no assis tance in determining the position in Austral ia . The Aboriginal people are subject to the laws of the Commonwea l th and of the States or Territories in which they respectively reside. They have no legislative, executive or judicial organs by which sovereignty might be exercised. If such organs existed, they would have no powers, except such as the laws of the Commonweal th , or of a State or Territory, might confer upon them. The contention that there is in Austral ia an Aboriginal nation exercising sovereignty, even of a limited kind, is quite impossible in law to maintain. [All emphas is added] . 7 1 This captures the crux of Gibbs J 's rejection of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty and also encapsulates the High Court 's rejection of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty in this series of cases . This passage has been quoted with approval by the High Court in Coe (No. 2) and Walker v New South Wales. The problematic assumptions that 7 1 Above n1 at 128- 129. 40 form the foundation of the rejection of Aboriginal sovereignty, assumptions that are both explicitly and implicitly captured by this passage , resonate throughout the High Court decis ions. These assumptions include: 1. History in the United States is different from history in Austral ia and that as a result of this difference in history, Aboriginal peoples in Austral ia cannot be recognised as sovereign, self-governing Aboriginal nations. 2. Aboriginal sovereignty necessari ly chal lenges the legal foundation of the Commonwea l th of Austral ia . 3. Aboriginal sovereignty necessari ly limits parliamentary power. 4. The Commonwealth Constitution exhaustively divides all law-making powers between the federal government and state governments. 5. Legislative, executive and judicial arms of government are a necessary requirement of sovereignty. 6. Aboriginal people do not have legislative, executive and judicial organs to exercise sovereignty. 41 7. A n Aboriginal nation maintaining any form of sovereignty is "impossible". T w o chal lenges must be brought to this decis ion. The first chal lenge concerns the nature of the question presented to the Court, which was a c la im of overarching sovereignty over Australia on behalf of a single Aboriginal nation. The second chal lenge concerns the validity of the assumptions upon which this decis ion is built. However , as these assumptions tend to flow through these sovereignty decis ions, I merely raise this issue and return to d iscuss it in full after examining this series of cases . T h e High Court in Coe (No. 1) was faced with a claim for absolute Westphal ian state sovereignty, for a single Aboriginal nation of Austral ia that fundamentally chal lenged the legitimacy of the Austral ian state. This was categorically rejected. This is not surprising. S u c h a claim has never been accepted anywhere else in the Commonwea l th . It is wrong to think that this rejection necessari ly excludes sovereignty that is not absolute Westphal ian sovereignty, exists at a community and not a national level and does not fundamentally chal lenge the legitimacy of the Austra l ian state. The rejection of absolute sovereignty of a single fictitious nation is not a rejection of modified sovereignty of many different Aboriginal nations. Modified sovereignty, existing at a community level that co-exists with Austral ian sovereignty, w a s not considered by the High Court in Coe (No. 1). 42 Further, the assert ion that C o e made, that there is only one Aboriginal nation in Austral ia , must be chal lenged. Pau l C o e asserted that Aboriginal people existed and continue to exist as a single sovereign nation. This is a fundamental flaw in the statement of c laim. Justice Gibbs questioned whether there is a "body of persons properly described as "the Aboriginal community and nation of Aust ra l ia"" 7 2 and if so, whether C o e is entitled to sue on its behalf. Indeed, how could C o e have standing to sue on behalf of the Aboriginal nation of Austral ia? G ibbs J questioned standing based on the grounds: . . . that there is no Aboriginal nation, if by that express ion is meant a people organised as a separate State or exercising any degree of sovereignty." 7 3 [Emphasis added]. The plaintiffs claim and G ibbs J 's rejection, are both based on the notion that any form of sovereignty necessarily entails state separat ism. But this is a very limited interpretation of sovereignty and not the only, let alone the most appropriate, interpretation of Aboriginal sovereignty. He does not consider modified sovereignty as a notion distinct from absolute sovereignty. C o e lacked standing, not because no sovereign Aboriginal nation can exist in Austral ia without challenging Austral ian sovereignty, but rather, because there is not "/bid at 131. 73 Ibid. 43 a single Aboriginal nation of Austral ia, and certainly not one that has absolute state sovereignty. There were over 200 Aboriginal languages in Austral ia and approximately 500 nations at the time of colonial contact. Despite quibbles of anthropological terminology (from "band" to "language group" to "nation" to "moiety" to "mob"), it is ahistorical and incorrect to associate sovereignty in Aboriginal Austral ia with an ability to make laws nationally. There is no single national Aboriginal legal sys tem in . Austral ia . There are many Aboriginal legal systems. E a c h legal system and set of laws governs only specific Aboriginal peoples, those that are members of a particular Aboriginal community or Aboriginal nation. This is where sovereignty lies. For example, Koori law in Victoria does not influence Bardi law in the Kimber leys . Bardi will respect Koori law when they are in Koori country, and Koori will respect Bardi law when they are in Bardi country, but Bardi are not bound or governed by Koori law at any other time. Bardi are governed by Bardi law. Sovereignty, and in this instance, Aboriginal sovereignty, is the ability to make laws that govern a community. In Aboriginal societies in Australia, this occurs at the local community level, not nationally. Despite over 200 years of colonisation and government policies of assimilation, Aboriginal peoples have distinct cultures, languages and law. It is historically, culturally and contemporarily incorrect to talk of one Aboriginal nation of Austral ia . 44 Wacando v Commonwealth (1981) Severa l years after the decis ion in Coe (No. 1), the High Court handed down its dec is ion in Wacando v Commonwealth. Car lemo Wacando , a traditional owner of parts of Darnley Island, intended to develop beche-de-mer fishing and to explore and exploit pe t ro leum. 7 4 The Queens land and Federal Governments argued they were entitled to prevent Wacando ' s actions unless he had a permit, leave or l icence from the Government . W a c a n d o argued that the Letters Patent of 1878 were invalid and ineffective arid that as a result, Darnley Island was not part of Queens land or Austra l ia . Ch ie f Just ice Gibbs , writing the leading judgment, held that Darnley Island had been part of Queens land since 1 s t Augus t 1879 and remained part of Q u e e n s l a n d . 7 5 M a s o n , Aick in , Wi l son and Brennan J J , in brief but separate judgments, agreed with G i b b s C J ' s d e c i s i o n . 7 6 This case focused on the effect of certain imperial instruments that declared Darnley Island part of Austral ia . It was not a challenge to the legitimacy, legality or justice of 7 4 Beche-de-mer, also known as trepang, is a sea cucumber. Wacando intended to fish in the seabed surrounding Darnley Island and between Darnley Island and other islands that are more than 60 miles from the Queensland mainland coast. 7 5 Above n 52 at 19. 76 Ibid at 27 per Mason J, ibid at 28 per Aickin J and ibid at 28 per Wilson J. Wilson J agrees with Gibbs CJ but has one reservation that there is no legal efficacy of the Letters Patent.of 1878. Brennan J, ibid at 30, also agrees with Gibbs CJ. 45 the legal doctrine authorising the extension of sovereignty over Darnley I s land . 7 7 However , Murphy J wrote an interesting judgment that demonstrates the assumpt ions underlying the High Court 's rejection of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty. In the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) ihe Portuguese and Span i sh c la imed to divide between them the non-European world . . . Under this disposition the Eastern half of Austral ia and Darnley Island apparently belonged to Spa in . The arrogance of the European powers continued into and throughout the nineteenth century and the British were no exception. Around the world land was c la imed under the false pretence.that it was unoccupied or terra nullius78 . . . Islands off the Austral ian mainland were annexed or abandoned without reference to the inhabitants. The cavalier way in which the British authorities dealt with the affairs of the Austral ian colonies is evidenced by gross inconsistencies and ludicrous errors of geographical description in important State documents referred to in the hea r ing . 7 9 The eighteenth century pretensions of the British authorities to make law for other peoples aroused resistance by the Amer ican colonies which culminated 77 Ibid at 11. Gibbs CJ noted that the plaintiff did not challenge the correctness of the statement of Diplock L.J in Post Office v. Estuary Radio Ltd. (1968) 2 QB 740 at 753, which he had cited with approval in the Seas,and Submerged Lands Case above n 61 at 388: It still lies within the prerogative power of the Crown to extend its sovereignty and jurisdiction to areas of land or sea over which it has not previously claimed or exercised sovereignty or jurisdiction. For such extension the authority of Parliament is not required. 7 8 Importantly, he refers to Coe (No. 1). 7 9 Above n 50 at 27. 46 in the W a r of Independence. Al though these pretensions (like those of the Stuart Kings) have been progressively modified and now seem unacceptable to many, they provide the basis of the assumptions on which this case w as argued . . . O n these assumptions however, it follows that the application of the Colonial Boundaries Act 1895 (Imp.) d i sposes of the plaintiffs claim that Darnley Island is not part of Queens land . [Emphasis added] . 8 0 Murphy J's articulate judgment indicates clear dissatisfaction with the manner of acquisit ion of sovereignty in Austral ia . He notes the ludicrous pretensions relied upon to maintain the fiction of terra nullius and Australia as a settled colony. The interesting aspect of Murphy J's decis ion is his explicit d iscuss ion of the assumptions upon which the acquisit ion of Austral ia w as legally justified. These assumptions, according to Murphy J , do not align with contemporary standards. More fundamentally, these are merely assumptions. It is these assumptions that were relied upon to justify colonisation. It is similar assumptions that underpin the apparent rejection of the existence of Aboriginal sovereignty in contemporary Austral ian society. 80 Ibid at 28. 47 Coe v Common wealth (No. 2) (1993) After the landmark decis ion in Mabo (No. 2), recognising native title and rejecting jurisprudence arising from Cooper v Stuart, the question of Aboriginal sovereignty was again brought before the High Court. O n behalf of the Wiradjuri, Isabelle C o e , the sister of Pau l C o e (the plaintiff in Coe (No. 1)),81 sought a declaration under the original jurisdiction of the High Court that the Wiradjuri are the owners of lands of a large part of southern and central N e w South W a l e s . 8 2 In the alternative, C o e argued that the "Wiradjuri are a domest ic dependent nation, entitled to self government and full rights over their traditional lands, save only the right to alienate them to whoever they p lease ." 8 3 The assertion of the Wiradjuri as a domestic dependent nation was premised on the recognition of the Wiradjuri as a sovereign nation of peop le . 8 4 The defendants, the Commonwea l th of Australia and the State of N e w South Wales , applied to,strike out certain paragraphs or alternatively to dismiss , stay or strike out 8 1 Paul Coe, Chairman of the Aboriginal Legal Service, acts for the plaintiff in these proceedings. 8 2 Above n 3 at 194 for a description of the lands. 83 Ibidai 195. The "sovereignty claim" is set out at ibid at 195 - 196. 84 Ibid. 48 the statement of c l a i m . 8 5 M a s o n C J , sitting alone at first instance, heard the appl ica t ions . 8 6 C o e , relying on Murphy and J a c o b J J ' s decis ion in Coe (No. 1), argued that Coe (No. 1) must be read in light of Mabo (No. 2). However , M a s o n C J restricted the reinterpretation of Coe (No. 1), stating, "Coe lends no support whatsoever to a subsisting Aboriginal c laim to sovereignty". 8 7 Chief Just ice M a s o n stated that: Mabo (No. 2) is entirely at odds with the notion that sovereignty adverse to the Crown resides in the Aboriginal people of Austral ia . The decis ion is equally at odds with the notion that there resides in the Aboriginal people a limited kind of sovereignty embraced in the notion that they are "a domestic dependent nation" entitled to self-government and full rights (save the right of alienation) or that as a free and independent people they are entitled to any rights and interests other than those created or recognized by the laws of the Commonweal th , the State of N e w South Wa le s and the common law. Mabo (No.2) denied that the Crown 's acquisition of sovereignty over Austral ia could be chal lenged in the municipal courts of this country . . . Mabo (No. 2) recognized that land in the Murray Islands was held by means of native title under the paramount sovereignty of the Crown . [Emphasis added] . 8 8 8 5 Commonwealth of Australia sought an order pursuant to 0 20 r 29 or 0 26 r 18 of the High Court Rules 1952 (Cth), 8 6 Interestingly, it was Mason CJ's decision at first instance in Coe (No. 1), which was ultimately upheld. 8 7 Above n 3 at 199. /b/cf at 200. 49 Chief Justice M a s o n col lapsed all notions of sovereignty into one notion of absolute state sovereignty. However, sovereignty is far more complex than this. Chief Just ice M a s o n does not provide room for this complexity in his analysis: The allegation . . . that the Wiradjuri are a dependent domestic nation, entitled to self-government and full rights over their tribal lands, is but another way of putting the sovereignty claim. The allegation has no basis in domestic law. Likewise, the claim . . . that the Wiradjuri are a free and independent people is but another aspect of the sovereignty claim, having no independent legal significance. [Emphasis added] . 8 9 Chie f Justice Mason ' s reasoning is flawed. A s a result of folding all sovereignty and self-government arguments into one c losed notion of absolute Westphal ian state sovereignty, M a s o n C J appears to reject the possibility of Wiradjuri sovereignty existing in any form whatsoever. Interestingly, M a s o n C J held that the claim was brought for an improper purpose. In addition to evidence that the predominant purpose was to aid a political campaign »K>K/at 200. 50 foreign to the litigation, the fact that the core of the claim was sovereignty and therefore untenable constituted further evidence of an improper purpose.90 In the result, the High Court rejected the sovereignty claim that the Commonwealth lacked legislative competence to impair Wiradjuri rights. Mason CJ, sitting alone at first instance, rejected the argument that after Mabo (No. 2), the Crown's acquisition of sovereignty over Australia could be challenged in domestic courts. He also affirmed Gibbs J's statement in Coe (No.1) that the notion of domestic dependent nations is not applicable in Australia. Walker v New South Wales (1994) Walker was charged with six offences under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)9'* In his defence, Walker challenged the ability of the New South Wales Parliament to enact the provisions under which he had been'charged and asserted that the common law is only valid in its application to Aboriginal people to the extent it has been accepted by Aboriginal people. New South Wales applied for the action to be dismissed or 90 Ibid at 206 - 207, relying on Williams v Spautz (1992) 174 CLR 509. The alleged campaign was to contribute to the political settlement of claims made by Aboriginal people in Australia, including the Wiradjuri. In particular, the alleged intention was to indicate that Aboriginal people have rational claimsand that the farming community should start negotiating with the Wiradjuri for the payment of royalties for the occupation of Wiradjuri land. This was per John McDonnell's affidavit, which deposes statements by Paul Coe. The plaintiff, Isabelle Coe did not contest the making of these statements. 9 1 Walker is a well-respected Aboriginal elder and activist and was charged under section 33A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) for malicious discharge of loaded arms with intent to do grievous bodily harm or to resist arrest and section 58 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) for assault with intent to commit a felony or assault of an officer in the execution of his duty. The incident occurred whilst Walker was defending a sacred site. In response to the final sentencing decision, a "Free , Denis Walker" campaign was instigated. 51 stayed, arguing that the statement of claim did not plead a reasonable cause of action. 9 2 Walker denied this was a claim for sovereignty. The question raised was whether, after Mabo (No. 2), earlier cases that determined Aboriginal law did not exist, that were based on terra nullius, maintained precedential weight. The plaintiff argued that Aboriginal criminal law is recognised by the common law and continues as Aboriginal land tenure laws were held to continue in Mabo (No. 2). The plaintiff asserted that courts had never finally determined whether Aboriginal criminal law is still applicable and argued that "the criminal law that was imported to New South Wales on colonization was only the law that affected the colonists." 9 3 Chief Justice Mason, sitting alone at first instance, referred to Coe (No. 1) and held that the pleadings were couched in terms of legislative incapacity and therefore untenable. 9 4 In considering whether the previous jurisprudence was still applicable, Mason C J again stated that: There is nothing in the recent decision in Mabo v. Queensland (No. 2) ... to support the notion that the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales lack legislative competence to regulate or affect the rights of Aboriginal people, or the notion that the application of Commonwealth or State laws to 9 2 0 26 r 18 High Court Rules 1952 (Cth). 9 3 Above n 53 at 46. 94 Ibid at 48. 52 Aboriginal people is in any way subject to their acceptance, adoption, request or consent. S u c h notions amount to the contention that a new source of sovereignty resides in the Aboriginal people. Indeed, Mabo (No.2) rejected that sugges t ion . 9 5 M a s o n C J considered Mabo (No. 2) to be "entirely at odds" with any notion of Aboriginal sovereignty. Further, M a s o n C J reasoned that a construction that results in different criminal sanctions for different persons for the same conduct offends both the principle of equality and section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) (Cth)96 M a s o n C J held that the statement of claim did not d isc lose a reasonable cause of action "in so far as it is based on the proposition that the legislatures lacked power to legislate over Aboriginal peoples ." 9 7 A s in the previous decis ions rejecting the existence of Aboriginal sovereignty, this case col lapsed all notions of Aboriginal sovereignty into one Westphal ian notion of sovereignty that interconnects notions of sovereignty with the state. REJECTION OF ABSOLUTE NOT MODIFIED SOVEREIGNTY 95 Ibid. 96 Ibid at 49. Section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) is the equality rights provision. 97 Ibid at 50. Even though it was a request for the action to be dismissed or alternatively stayed, the statement of claim was struck out for no reasonable cause of action. 53 T h e s e High Court cases , particularly Coe (No. 1) and Coe (No. 2), at first g lance pose a formidable hurdle to the assertion of Aboriginal sovereignty in Austral ia today. This is the argument often raised to deny the right of self-government and the continuing existence of Aboriginal sovereignty in any form whatsoever. However , properly considered, these cases do not exclude the possibility of the assert ion and recognition of Aboriginal self-government where the underlying Aboriginal sovereignty is not in opposition to Crown sovereignty. It is this form of modified Aboriginal sovereignty that supports the argument for the recognition of Aboriginal self-government. In order to indicate the limited extent the rejection of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty in these cases pose for the recognition of common law self-government, I examine the nature of the questions that were put before the Court, the assumpt ions the Court relied on in its response and the expansive interpretations commentators have given to these cases . Flawed Questions The questions brought before the Court arguing for the recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty all failed to clearly distinguish between absolute sovereignty and modified sovereignty. 5 4 For instance, in Coe (No. 1), the High Court was faced with a c la im for absolute Westphal ian state sovereignty for an ahistorical single Aboriginal nation of Austral ia . In addition, C o e attempted to make a claim of modified sovereignty on behalf of the single Aboriginal nation'of Austral ia. Relying on Marshal l C J ' s decis ion in Cherokee Nation v Georgia,98 C o e failed to establish the relevance of this United States jurisprudence and failed to clearly distinguish the concept of domest ic dependent nations, a concept encapsulated by modified sovereignty, from absolute Westphal ian state sovereignty. The question before the Court thus col lapsed all notions of sovereignty into one notion of absolute sovereignty. W h e n the question of Aboriginal sovereignty was raised pos t -Maoo (No. 2), after the recognition of inherent Aboriginal rights to land, the plaintiffs again failed to distinguish between absolute and modified sovereignty. Isabelle Coe , in Coe (No. 2), made a claim for absolute sovereignty and in the alternative, a claim for recognition as a domest ic dependent nation. Although the claim appears to be for modified sovereignty, it was not clearly articulated to distinguish it from the claim of absolute sovereignty. This is evident in M a s o n C J ' s response where he stated that Mabo (No. 2) is "equally at odds" with any other form of "limited" sovereignty. B e c a u s e these c a s e s were not properly advanced or properly argued, the Court s eems to have considered Aboriginal sovereignty as either absolute sovereignty or 9 8 Although the concept of domestic dependent nations was discussed, the issue of self-government was not considered to the same extent as in the final decision of the Marshall trilogy, Worcester v Georgia. 55 no sovereignty. The plaintiffs did not advance and the Court did not consider the proper construction of colonial law that there is a mid-point between these two positions. Therefore, the Court was not confronted with the question of an individual Aboriginal nation with laws distinct to itself or modified sovereignty and self-government that is consistent with the existence of the Austral ian state. A s a result, because these issues have never been considered in Austral ia , they have never been rejected. A further interesting aspect of the nature of the questions brought in these c a s e s is that all of these cases , except for Walker v New South Wales, were brought under the original jurisdiction of the High C o u r t . " This means that the statement of c la im was filed in the High Court and a single judge acted as a trial judge at first instance. This is quite a different situation to most High Court ca ses that form part of the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court and have been considered by a trial court, an appellate court and granted special leave to appeal before being considered by the High Court. There are two fundamental differences that must be recognised. First, c a ses brought under the original jurisdiction deal with both questions of law and questions of fact. 9 9 Both the Commonwealth Constitution and the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) have vested the High Court with original jurisdiction. Section 75 of the Commonwealth Constitution vested the High Court with original jurisdiction in five areas, including matters where the Commonwealth, States or other countries are parties to the litigation. In addition, section 30 of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) also confers original jurisdiction on the High Court in matters arising under the Commonwealth Constitution or its interpretation. The High Court also has exclusive jurisdiction where its jurisdiction is exclusive of the jurisdiction of state courts. Section 38 of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) confers exclusive jurisdiction on the High Court in matters involving states or the Commonwealth. 56 However , c a se s brought under the appellate jurisdiction are limited to questions of law. Therefore, in these cases , High Court judges were acting as judges at first i n s t ance . 1 0 0 Secondly , in considering cases brought under the appellate jurisdiction, the High Court has the benefit of the reasons of judgment of the lower courts. There are no previous decis ions in ca se s brought under the original jurisdiction. A s a result, the problems that may arise with a statement of claim that has not been subject to the normal disputation at trial may, and did, arise in these ci rcumstances . Therefore, although these are all High Court decis ions, it is important to recognise that they were brought under the original jurisdiction. Account ing for the fact that the High Court 's original jurisdiction only extends to matters that go to the core of the Austral ian constitutional and legal framework, it is important to recognise the procedural nature of these cases . A first instance decision, made prior to trial of the issues, must not be extrapolated into a rejection of Aboriginal sovereignty in all forms whatsoever. Flawed Assumptions Underpinning the Court's Response Earlier in this chapter, I outlined seven assumptions that underpin these High Court d e c i s i o n s . 1 0 1 1 0 0 The question before the Court is not whether the issues raised have been made out on a balance of probabilities but rather, whether the statement of claim raises a cause of action and is not vexatious, embarrassing or scandalous; See 0 26 r 18 and 0 20 r 29 High Court Rules 1952 (Cth). 1 0 1 See page 39. 57 Assumpt ion number one is not maintainable. The rejection of the Marshal l jurisprudence because there is a "difference" between the treatment of indigenous peoples in Austral ia and the treatment of indigenous peoples in the United States is based on a flawed understanding of the United States jurisprudence. In Chapter 3, I elaborate this point. Despite the apparent rejection in Coe (No. 1) and Coe (No. 2), the Marshal l trilogy formed part of the colonial c o m m o n law that was imported to Austral ia at colonisation. The crux of assumptions number two to seven is a reliance on one particular notion of sovereignty. G iven the nature of the questions presented to the Court, this is not surprising. The High Court col lapsed all notions of sovereignty, including Aboriginal sovereignty that does not exist in opposition to C r o w n sovereignty, into one notion of absolute state sovereignty. The synthesis of these complex notions of sovereignty under the banner of absolute sovereignty denied the Court the opportunity to consider the possibility of the continuing existence of modified Aboriginal sovereignty. This extrapolation of the concept of sovereignty is without jurisprudential basis and with respect, the High Court is incorrect in denying the existence of all forms of Aboriginal sovereignty and self-government on this ground. A s a result, I reject all six assumptions that rely on this col lapsed notion of sovereignty. 58 First, Aboriginal sovereignty, where it is modified sovereignty, does not necessari ly chal lenge the legal foundation of the Commonwea l th of Austral ia . Second , Aboriginal sovereignty does not necessari ly limit Parl iamentary power. Aboriginal and Parliamentary power can co-exist. Third, the division of powers in the Commonwealth Constitution do not preclude the existence of Aboriginal sovereignty. Aboriginal sovereignty has a different source than C r o w n sovereignty and therefore does not rely on the division of powers in the Commonwealth Constitution, powers that emanate from Crown sovereignty. Fourth, legislative, executive and judicial arms are not a necessary requirement of government. This is an erroneous ethnocentric assumption. Fifth, whether or not Aboriginal people have these three arms of government is irrelevant to whether or not they are sovereign peoples. A g a i n , this is an ethnocentric perception of government. Finally, an Aboriginal nation maintaining sovereignty is not impossible. Aboriginal sovereignty continues to exist in a modified form. The High Court 's assumptions, all relying on one understanding of sovereignty as absolute sovereignty, are invalid. A s a result, the inferences the High Court has drawn from these assumptions are questionable. Conf lated C o m m e n t a r y 59 Unfortunately, commentators have generally given expansive interpretations to this series of High Court cases by exaggerating the scope of the rejection of sovereignty. A s a result, the myth that Aboriginal sovereignty has been rejected in any form whatsoever has been perpetuated. This has then been used to deny the right of self-government. Peter Grose aptly summarises the general pos i t i on . 1 0 2 In one sentence the summary of the issue of indigenous sovereignty in Austral ian municipal courts is that it is a non-justiciable i s s u e . 1 0 3 A s a result of this position, these c a s e s are generally relied on to distinguish Austral ia from Canada , N e w Zea land and the United States, where self-government has been recognised to varying degrees. Andrew Lokan writes: It appears unlikely that any broad and general right to self-government, of the kind recognised in the United States by Marshal l C J in the early decades of the 19th century, will be recognised as part of the common law of Austral ia . Mabo's emphatic statements about the establishment of Crown sovereignty, 1 0 2 See Otta, above n 40 at 102. She concludes that "[i]n the terms of contemporary international and domestic legal discourse, indigenous sovereignty is an impossibility." See also H. McRae, G. Nettheim & L Beacroft, Aboriginal Legal Issues (Sydney: Law Book Company, 1991) at 70. Garth Nettheim, "International Law and Sovereignty" in Christine Fletcher (ed.), Aboriginal Self-Determination in Australia (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994) 70 at 73. 1 0 3 Peter Grose, "The Indigenous Sovereignty Question and the Australian Response" (1996) 3:1 Australian Journal of Human Rights 40 at 43. Although he disagrees with these decisions, he suggests that political routes are the best option and sees the legal question as moot at 61 - 68. 60 coupled with the holdings in the two Coe v Commonwealth cases , appear to leave little or no room for a claim of this na tu re . 1 0 4 With respect, this interpretation of Coe (No. 1) and Coe (No. 2) is incorrect. T h e High Court in Coe (No. 1) was faced with a claim for absolute Westphal ian state sovereignty, for a single Aboriginal nation of Austral ia that fundamentally chal lenged the legitimacy of the Austral ian state. This was categorically rejected by the High Court. It is wrong to think that this rejection necessar i ly excludes sovereignty that is not absolute Westphal ian sovereignty, exists at a community level and does not fundamentally challenge the legitimacy of the Austral ian state. CONCLUSION Pre-contact Aboriginal sovereignty gave Aboriginal peoples exclusive jurisdiction over their land and affairs. The colonisation of Austra l ia and the establishment of colonial government have necessari ly modified Aboriginal sovereignty. However , Aboriginal sovereignty cannot be understood by reference only to international law concepts. Instead, a pluralistic notion of sovereignty should be applied consistent with the coming together of communities, legal sys tems and different forms of government . 1 0 5 1 0 4 Andrew Lokan, "From Recognition to Reconciliation: The Functions of Aboriginal Rights Law" (1999) 23 Melbourne University Law Review 65 at 116. 1 0 5 Patrick Macklem, "Normative Dimensions of an Aboriginal Right of Self-Government" (1995) 21 Queen's Law Journal 173 at 185. Macklem argues that recognising the right of self-government is driven by the desire to recognise incidents 61 O n c e the assertion of absolute sovereignty is jettisoned, the assert ion of modified sovereignty does not result in the incapacity of Parliament. Austral ian judicial dec is ions do not deny that Aboriginal people are entitled to c o m m o n law rights, including the common law right of se l f -government . 1 0 6 Therefore, although the High Court has rejected the existence of absolute sovereignty on several occas ions , this is not fatal to the recognition of a common law right of Aboriginal self-government. Aboriginal sovereignty continues to exist and, although modified, supports the c o m m o n law right of self-government. of inherent Aboriginal sovereignty in light of the existence of the state. See also S.E. Merry, "Resistance and the Cultural Power of Law" (1995) 29 Law and Society Review 11 at 23, who argues that using this definition of modified Aboriginal sovereignty, it promotes a "legally plural notion of law in which state law is only one of many levels". 1 0 6 Above n 3 at 200. 62 Chapter Three SELF-GOVERNMENT & THE COLONIAL COMMON LAW In 1832, the United States Supreme Court decided Worcester v Georgia.^ This seminal decis ion is foundational to Aboriginal rights jurisprudence, not only in the United States but throughout much of the former British Empire . Chief Just ice Marshal l wrote the leading judgment in Worcester v Georgia and in two preceding Aboriginal rights cases : Johnson v Mcintosh and Cherokee Nation v Georgia. T h e s e cases are collectively referred to as the "Marshall trilogy". 4 In these cases , Marshal l C J treated land and sovereignty as the two vital e lements of Aboriginal rights. 51 focus on the final decision in the trilogy as it contains the clearest and most comprehensive consideration of self-government. 6 1 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832). 2 21 U.S. (8 Wheat) 543 (1823). 3 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1 4 See Howard Berman, "The Concept of Aboriginal Rights in the Early Legal History of the United States" (1978) 27 Buffalo Law Review 637. Chief Justice John Marshall was the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He took the oath of office on 4 Feb 1801 and served until his death on 6 July 1835. See J.E. Smith, John Marshall: Definerofa Nation (New York: Henry Holt, 1996) at 1, 20, 283, and 285; Christopher D. Jenkins, "John Marshall's Aboriginal Rights Theory and its Treatment in Canadian Jurisprudence" (2001) 35 University of British Columbia Law Review 1. 5 Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333 (Written argument of the Nisga'a Tribal Council at 27). 6 Howard Berman, "The Concept of Aboriginal Rights in the Early Legal History of the United States" (1978) 27 Buffalo Law Review 637 at 660 argues that Worcester v Georgia provides the clearest, most complete articulation of Aboriginal rights and should be seen as the culmination of an evolving doctrine. Berman also notes that this is the only case in the trilogy decided on substantive merits involving a "live issue" of Aboriginal rights. Therefore, although Coe (No. 1) and Coe (No. 2) dealt with the second case, Cherokee Nation v Georgia, I suggest that this case was not the final or most articulate statement on self-government. 6 3 Worcester v Georgia reviews the history of British deal ings with Aboriginal peoples in Amer i ca and articulates certain principles implicit in those dealings. Chief Just ice Marshal l ' s judgment, akin to Lord Mansfield 's celebrated decis ion in Campbell v Hall,7 provides "structure and coherence to an untidy, diffuse body of customary law based on official practice." 8 Worcester v Georgia encapsulates the c o m m o n law legal doctrine of inherent Aboriginal self-government, a doctrine originating in British imperial law. The concise statement of the inherent right of self-government in Worcester v Georgia has been adopted in C a n a d a but not in Austral ia . The adoption of this doctrine in C a n a d a is indicative of its nature as a colonial common law doctrine. It is the imperial colonial origins of this doctrine that provide the basis for its application in Austral ia . Therefore, one must ask, if Worcester v Georgia coherently states British colonial c o m m o n law, why has it not been adopted in Austra l ia? In order to answer this question, I first examine the decis ion in Worcester v Georgia before considering the Canad ian and Austral ian response. WORCESTER V GEORGIA & THE RIGHT OF SELF-GOVERNMENT 7(1774) 1 Cowp. 204; 98E.R. 1045. 8 Brian Slattery, "Understanding Aboriginal Rights" (1987) 66 Canadian Bar Review 727 at 739. 64 In 1829, Georg ia passed legislation that added Cherokee territory to Georgia ' s counties, extended Georgia ' s laws over that territory and annulled all Che rokee l aws . 9 The following year, Georg ia passed further legislation that prevented the exercise of power under pretext of authority from the Cherokee Nation and prevented white persons from residing within Che rokee territory. 1 0 In Sep tember 1831, S a m u e l A . Worcester , a N e w England missionary, was charged with "residing within the limits of the Che rokee nation without a l icense." 1 1 He received four years imprisonment. Worces ter appealed to the Supreme Court. Worces te r was a preacher and argued that he was residing in Cherokee territory with permission of the Che rokee Nation and the United States. He submitted that the al leged crime wa s not within the court's jurisdiction. Worces ter pointed to treaties s igned between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, arguing that these recognised the Cherokee as a sovereign nation, authorised to govern themselves and therefore not subject to Georgia ' s laws. Worces ter argued that Georgia ' s acts were repugnant to both the United States constitution and the treaties and as a result were unconstitutional and v o i d . 1 2 O n 3 March 1832, Chief Just ice Marshal l delivered the Supreme Court 's decis ion. In considering the validity of the treaties and Georgia 's legislation, Marshal l C J 9 For full text (including the lower court decisions) see Worcester v Georgia 1832 U.S. LEXIS 489 at 9. 1 0 /Jb/'c/ at 1. 1 1 Above n 1 at 537. Elizur Butler, James Trott, Samuel Mays, Surry Eaton, Austin Copeland and Edward Losure were also charged with the same offence. 12 Ibid at 538 -540 . 65 grappled with the implications of the United States occupation of Indian land, attempting to reconcile United States sovereignty with Indian r ights . 1 3 Chie f Just ice Marshal l considered the doctrine of discovery and confirmed the pre-existing sovereignty of Indian nations: Amer i ca , separated from Europe by a wide ocean , was inhabited by a distinct people, divided into separate nations, independent of each other and of the rest of the world, having institutions of their own, and governing themselves by their own l a w s . 1 4 T h e doctrine of discovery has often been misinterpreted to justify the extinguishment of aboriginal rights, title and sovere ignty . 1 5 However, the Chief Just ice articulated the doctrine of discovery such that it regulates the relationship between European nations and merely restricts Indian nations ability to treat with the "discovering" nation, if Indian nations choose to treat. The doctrine of discovery does not impose any other restrictions on aboriginal peoples. 1 3 There were two preliminary issues in Worcester v Georgia. The first issue was whether the Supreme Court had jurisdiction. Marshall CJ determined there was jurisdiction, as the validity of treaties, and at a minimum their construction, was called into question. The second issue was whether the record was properly before the court. There was a question whether the clerks signature, rather than the judge's signature was sufficient; ibid at 537. Marshall CJ and M'Lean J, ibid at 563, 568 and 573, held that there was no deficiency. Baldwin J dissented on this ground, arguing that the record was not properly returned upon the writ of error as the record ought to have been returned by the state court, not by the clerk of the state court. As to the merits of the case, Baldwin J stated that his opinion remained the same as was expressed in Cherokee Nation v State of Georgia. 14 ibid at 542 -543 . 1 5 See Mabo v Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1 {"Mabo (No. 2)") and Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333. 66 Marshal l C J considered numerous treaties, including the Treaty of Holston™ He interpreted the Treaty ofHolston as explicitly recognising the national character of the Cherokee , Cherokee lands and their right of self-government and also imposing on the United States a duty of protection. This relationship of protection was consistent with the roles of the United States and Georg ia since Confederation. Chief Just ice Marshal l concluded that the United States had the sole right to deal with First Nations. After recognising pre-existing sovereignty and occupation, Marshal l C J articulated the concept of self-government. In an oft-quoted passage, Marshal l C J stated: The Indian nations had a lways been considered as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil , from time immemorial , with the single exception of that imposed by irresistible power, which excluded them from intercourse with any other European potentate than the first discoverer of the coast of the particular region claimed: and this restriction which those European potentates imposed on themselves, as well as on the Indians. The very term "nation," so generally applied to them, means "a people distinct from others." 1 7 1 6 Above n 1 at 556. This treaty was frequently renewed. 1 7 /Jb/d at 559. 67 In addition to elaborating on the doctrine of discovery, this passage recognises indigenous peoples as "nations". Importantly, the term is used in its general international sense recognising, at a minimum, a measure of self-government. In addition, referring to Vattel and the L a w of Nations, Marshal l C J noted that although a weak state, in order to provide for its safety, may place itself under the protection of a more powerful state, the weaker state does not cease being sovereign or lose its right of self-government. 1 8 Therefore, conceiving of the Cherokee as a nation under the protection of the United States was consistent with international legal practice and meant the Cherokee retained their inherent right of self-government. Marshal l C J ' s view was not unanimous. M ' L e a n J , in a notable concurrence, recognised Cherokee self-government but reasoned that, "the exercise of the power of self-government by the Indians within a state, is undoubtedly contemplated to be temporary." 1 9 His rationale was that a time might come where "a tribe of Indians shall become so degraded or reduced in numbers as to lose the power of self-government" and that in that case , the local law, by necessity, must be extended over the Indian na t ion . 2 0 This hegemonic reasoning, based on the "dying race theory", relies on the inferiority and subsequent frailty of Indian nations. 18 Ibid at 561. 19 Ibid at 593. See also Timothy Joseph Preso, "A Return to Uncertainty in Indian Affairs: The Framers, the Supreme Court and the Indian Commerce Clause" (1994) 19 Am. Indian L. Rev. 443 at 456. 20 Ibid. Worcester v Georgia has had a chequered experience in its interpretation in United States law, with the United States Supreme Court oscillating between an expansive and restrictive definition of Aboriginal self-government. See Timothy Joseph Preso, "A Return to Uncertainty in Indian Affairs: The Framers, the Supreme Court and the Indian Commerce Clause" (1994) 19 Am. Indian L. Rev. 443 at 456 - 459. 68 Despite this Darwinist construction of Indian nations, M ' L e a n J recognised the inherent right of Aboriginal self-government: At no time has the sovereignty of the country been recognized as existing in the Indians, but they have a lways admitted to possess many of the attributes of sovereignty. All the rights which belong to self-government have been recognized as vested in them. Their right of occupancy has never been guestioned, but the fee in the soil has been considered in the government. This may be called the right to the ultimate domain, but the Indians have a present right of possess ion . [Emphas is added] . 2 1 M ' L e a n J 's conception of self-government is grounded in a recognition of prior occupat ion and prior sovereignty, which is consistent with aboriginal rights jurisprudence in C a n a d a and Austral ia . Importantly, he distinguishes between absolute state sovereignty and modified or limited sovereignty . 2 2 In the result, the Supreme Court declared Georgia ' s legislation void and the judgment a nullity because it was repugnant to the constitution, laws and treaties of the United States. 2 1 Above n 1 at 580. 2 2 This distinction and its implications were developed in full in Chapter 2. 69 WORCESTER V GEORGIA IN CANADA AND AUSTRALIA? Worcester v Georgia encapsulates the c o m m o n law legal doctrine of inherent Aboriginal self-government, which originates in British imperial law. S ince both C a n a d a and Austral ia were colonised by Britain and founded on British colonial common law, this doctrine is applicable in both C a n a d a and Austral ia . I consider first the Canadian and then the Austral ian judicial treatment of this case . Canada: A Selective Embracing The inherent right of Aboriginal self-government is recognised in C a n a d a however, this is primarily through government p o l i c y . 2 3 Al though the courts have commented on the issue, indicating there may be a c o m m o n law right constitutionally protected by section 35(1) of the Constitution Act 1982, the issue has not been conclusively decided by the Supreme Court of C a n a d a . 2 4 Courts have, however, recognised principles emanating from Worcester v Georgia as principles of British colonial c o m m o n law applicable in C a n a d a . The most recent and comprehensive 2 3 The federal government's policy, "Aboriginal Self-Government: The Government of Canada's Approach to the implementation of the Inherent Right of the Negotiation of Aboriginal Self-Government" (1995) includes the statement that: The Government of Canada recognizes the inherent right of self-government as an existing Aboriginal right under section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982. It recognizes, as well, that the inherent right may find expression in treaties, and in the context of the Crown's relationship with First Nations. Recognition of the inherent right is based on the view that the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have the right to govern themselves in relation to matters that are internal to their communities, integral to their unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages and institution, and with respect to their social relationships. 2 4 As mentioned in Chapter 1, in interpreting section 35(1) and determining the content of Aboriginal rights, courts must have regard to the common law. 70 consideration of the relevance of Worcester v Georgia and the inherent right of self-government was a first instance decis ion by the Supreme Court of British Co lumbia in CampbellvBritish Columbia25 The first significant statement on the applicability of Worcester v Georgia was in Connelly v Woolrich (186 7 ) , 2 6 a case decided just nine days after Canad i an Confederation. Monk J reviewed the Marshal l trilogy and concluded that the assertion of British sovereignty did not affect the pre-existing customary law of the Cree Nation. Monk J wrote: Will it be contended that the territorial rights, political organization such as it was, or the law and usages of the Indian tribes, were abrogated -- that they ceased to exist when these two European nations began to trade with the Aboriginal occupants? In my opinion, it is beyond controversy that they did not -- that so far from being abolished, they were left in full force, and were not even modified in the slighted degree in regard to the civil rights of the natives. A s bearing upon this point, I cannot do better than to cite the decis ion of a learned and august tribunal - the Supreme Court of the United States. In the celebrated case of Worcester against the State of Georgia, Chief Just ice M a r s h a l l . . . said . . . [Monk J set out in length passages I have already cited] Though speaking more particularly of Indian lands and territories, yet the 25 Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333. 26 (1867) 11 L.C.J 197. 71 opinion of the Court as to the maintenance of the laws of the Abor ig ines is manifest throughout. The principles laid down in this judgment, admit of no doubt. . . . I have no hesitation in saying that, adopting these views of the question under consideration . . . the Indian political and territorial rights, laws and usages remained in full force - both at Athabaska and in the Hudson B a y region, previous to the Charter of 1670 and even after that date, as will appear hereafter. 2 7 Monk J , conceding that the Athabaska district was within the Hudson B a y territories, concluded that although the common law prevailed, it had a very restricted application: . . . only among, and in favour of, and against those "who belonged to the C o m p a n y or were living under them". It did not apply to the Indians, nor were the native laws or customs abolished or modified, and this is unquestionably true in regard to their civil rights. It is easy to conceive, in the ca se of joint occupat ion of extensive countries by Europeans and native nations or tribes, that two different systems of civil and even criminal law may prevail . History is full of such instances, and the dominions of the British Crown exhibit c a se s of that kind. That Charter did introduce the Engl ish law, but did not, at the same 27 Ibid al 205-207. Story J concurred in this decision. 72 time, make it applicable generally or indiscriminately - it did not abrogate the Indian laws and usages. [Emphasis added] . 2 8 Monk J articulated two principles in this judgment. First, that the principles of self-government articulated by Marshal l C J in Worcester v Georgia are principles of British common law. They are therefore applicable in C a n a d a and throughout the British Empire . Secondly, that although the focus of the Marshal l trilogy w a s land, the principles relating to the continuing existence and recognition of Aboriginal law "is manifest throughout". 2 9 Just ice Strong's judgment in the Supreme Court of Canada ' s decis ion in St. Catherines Milling & Lumber Co. v R ("St. Catherines Milling")30 in 1887 also recognised the common law nature of the principles enunciated in Worcester v Georgia. This decision wa s appealed and affirmed by the Privy C o u n c i l . 3 1 Al though aboriginal self-government was not directly considered, the Court d i scussed aboriginal title in a manner that has implications for the recognition of self-government. 28 /b/dat 213-214. 23 Ibid at 214. 3 0 (1887) 13 SCR 577 at 610 - 613. See also Ritchie CJ at 600, Fournier J at 638 who concurred with Ritchie CJ and Gwynne J at 650. Henry J at 639 dismissed the appeal and did not refer to United States case law. 31 St. Catherines Milling & Lumber Co. v. R. (1888) 10 App. Cas. 13. The Privy Council did not consider the applicability of United States case law in Canada but handed down its decision on the basis of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. 7 3 St. Catherines Milling involved a dispute over the ownership of trees. The land in question had been surrendered under the North West Treaty No. 3. The Privy Counc i l held that section 109 of the Constitution Act 1867 transferred all lands, mines and minerals to the provinces. However, this transfer was subject to "an interest other than that of the Province in the same" . 3 2 t h e Privy Counc i l held that aboriginal title was such an interest and therefore encumbered the provincial title. A s a result, once lands were surrendered by treaty to the federal Crown , the lands became the property of the province. Consequently, the federal timber l icense was invalid as the federal government 's interest in the land and the trees had ceased when the land was sur rendered . 3 3 In the Supreme Court of Canada , Strong J recognised the origin of the doctrine of aboriginal rights, which includes self-government, as the c o m m o n law, rather than the Royal Proclamation of 1763.3A Strong J also referred to the concept of "domestic, dependent nation", implicitly recognising the inherent right of aboriginal self-government. The crucial aspect of Just ice Strong's judgment is his recognition that: . . . the survival of pre-existing aboriginal rights and the continued legal validity of essential aspects of aboriginal internal self-government were principles of 32 Ibid at 32. See also Shin Imai, "Treaty Lands and Crown Obligations: The "Tracts Taken Up" Provision" (2001) 27 Queen's Law Journal 1. 3 3 /b/d at 34. 3 4 Above n 30 at 610. ft 74 British c o m m o n law and were to be applied in Canad i an territories as they had been in what were now Amer ican territories. 3 5 Severa l years later, the Supreme Court of C a n a d a in Province of Ontario v Dominion of Canada ( 1895) 3 6 adopted the passage from Worcester v Georgia that recognised Indian nations as "distinct, independent, political communities". The question of self-government lay dormant until 1969, when the Nishga Tribal C o u n c i l 3 7 sought a declaration that aboriginal title had never been lawfully extinguished in their traditional territory in north-western British Columbia . In the Sup reme Court of C a n a d a decis ion of Calder v British Columbia (1973) , 3 8 the Court split 3 to 3 on the substantive issue. Judson J , writing for Matland and Ritchie J J , reflected on the Marshal l decis ions, reaffirmed St. Catherine's Milling and held that aboriginal title had been ex t inguished . 3 9 Hall J , writing for S p e n c e J and Lask in C J held that there was a "wealth of jurisprudence" affirming the common law recognition of aboriginal rights to the possess ion and enjoyment of lands. Hall J also referred to the Marshal l decis ions and considered Johnson v Mcintosh "the outstanding judicial pronouncement on the subject of Indian rights and self-government". 4 0 Hall J held 35 Delgamuukw v British Columbia (1993) 104 DLR (4th) 470 (Written Argument, Plaintiff at 97). 36 (1895) 25 S.C.R. 434 at 3 7 Now the Nisga'a Lisims Government. 3 8 [1973] SCR 313. There was no judicial consideration of aboriginal land questions before this time, primarily due to legal restrictions prohibiting First Nations access to courts, 3 9 / b /d at 320. 40 Ibid at 346. Calder concerned the question of land, therefore making Johnson v Mcintosh, not Worcester v Georgia, the most applicable case. However, as the reasoning in Worcester v Georgia, relies heavily on Johnson v Mcintosh, Hall J's 7 5 that aboriginal title had not been extinguished. The 3 to 3 split was resolved by P igeon J who, although not commenting on the substantive issues, held that the declaration could not be granted because a fiat had not been obtained. Despite the ultimate decision, it is significant that all six justices who dealt with the substantive issues agreed that Worcester v Georgia was persuasive in Canad ian jurisprudence and that aboriginal title had existed in British Co lumbia as a matter of c o m m o n law. After Calder and the introduction of the Constitution Act 1982, the Supreme Court of C a n a d a in Guerin v Canada41 referred to Worcester v Georgia in recognising that aboriginal rights arise from prior occupat ion and reaffirming the inherent nature of aboriginal rights. In 1990, in R v S /ou/ 4 2 Lamer J , as he then was, writing for a unanimous court, held that Great Britain had "nation-to-nation relations" with indigenous nations. He referred to British and French efforts to secure military alliance during the S e v e n Year ' s W a r as evidence of their regard of First Nations as "independent nat ions". 4 3 Lamer J quoted Marshal l C J in Worcester v Georgia in support of this position: judgment also implicitly builds on concepts articulated in Worcester v Georgia, At times, Hall J seems to have used the two cases interchangeably, particularly when discussing the doctrine of discovery. 4 1 [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335 at 377 per Dickson J. 4 2 [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1025. The question before the Court was whether an undertaking by a British general to the Hurons in 1760 was a treaty under s 88 of the Indian Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. I-5. See also Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333 (Written argument of the Nisga'a Tribal Council at 17 -19). 43 Ibid at 1053, "[t]he Indian nations were regarded in their relations with the European nations which occupied North America as independent nations". 76 . . . such was the policy of Great Britain towards the Indian nations inhabiting the territory from which she excluded all other Europeans ; such her claims, and such her practical exposit ion of the charters she had granted: she considered them as nations capable of maintaining the relations of peace and war: of governing themselves, under her protection: and she made treaties with them, the obligation of which she acknowledged. [Emphasis added] . 4 4 A s Monk J in Connelly v Woolrich had noted, Lamer J recognised that aboriginal rights encompass rights to both land and self-government: The British C r o w n recognized that the Indians had certain ownership rights over their land, it sought to establish trade with them which would rise above the level of exploitation and give them a fair return. It also al lowed them autonomy in their internal affairs, intervening in this area as little as possible. [Emphasis a d d e d ] 4 5 L a m e r J concluded by distinguishing between absolute and modified sovereignty and recognising the basis of the inherent right of self-government: 44 Ibid at 1053 - 1043, quoting above n 1 at 548 - 549. «/tttfaM055. 77 Relat ions with the Indian tribes fell somewhere between the kind of relations conducted between sovereign states and the relations that such states had with their own c i t i zens . 4 6 Severa l years later in R v Van der Peet,47 L a m e r C J grappled with an issue similar to that before Marshal l C J in Worcester v Georgia. In determining the purposes behind section 35(1), L a m e r C J referred to Marsha l l C J ' s decis ions, finding the "relevance of these cases arises from their articulation of general principles, rather than their specific legal holdings" . 4 8 Chief Just ice Lamer held that section 35(1) recognised that distinctive aboriginal societies occupied North Amer i ca prior to European settlement and that section 35(1) attempted to reconcile aboriginal prior occupat ion with Crown sovere ignty . 4 9 Importantly, the broad definition of what activities constituted an aboriginal right opened the door for c laims that section 35(1) included a right of self-government . 5 0 T h e question of self-government was explicitly considered in R v Pamajewon.5v S h a w a n a g a and Eagle Lake First Nations members , convicted of violating gambling prohibitions, argued they were exercising a right of self-government protected by s « At 1038. 4 7 [1996] 2 S.C.R. 507. 48 Ibid at 541. 49 Ibid at 538 - 539, 547 - 548. Lamer CJ , at 544, also adopted the "distinct political communities" from Worcester v Georgia, above n 1 at 599. 5 0 Christopher D. Jenkins, "John Marshall's Aboriginal Rights Theory and its Treatment in Canadian Jurisprudence" (2001) 35 U.B.C. L. Rev. 1. 5 1 [1996] 2 S.C.R. 821. 78 35(1). This argument was rejected. The Supreme Court of C a n a d a indicated that although a c la im to self-government could be advanced , it must not be in excess ively general t e rms . 5 2 This was reiterated in Delgamuukw v British Columbia ("Delgamuukw1')53 In Delgamuukw, the Gi tksan and Wet 'suwet 'en cla imed a general right to govern people residing within their traditional lands and to determine whether provincial laws applied. This was a claim for "ownership and jur isdict ion", 5 4 a broader c la im than inherent self-government. 5 5 The jurisdiction claim extended beyond Gi tksan and Wet 'suwet 'en members to all people within the lands c la imed. The Court of A p p e a l d ismissed the claim for jurisdiction on the basis that the Constitution Act 1867 exhaustively divided legislative power between the federal and provincial governments and as a result no constitutional space remained for aboriginal jur isdict ion. 5 6 This decis ion was appealed, however when this case came before the Supreme Court of C a n a d a , the i ssues relating to aboriginal title were the principal focus of the arguments before the Court, particularly the oral arguments. However, 52 Ibid at 832, 835 per Lamer CJ ; at 837 per L'Hereux-Dube J. 5 3 [1997] S.C.R. 1010. The initial statement of claim asserted a right to lands and jurisdiction. However, at the Supreme Court of Canada, the claim had been reduced to land only. 54 Delgamuukw v British Columbia [1997] S.C.R. 1010 (Statement of Claim). The statement of claim included a claim for jurisdiction to govern themselves, their territory, maintain institutions and to confirm ownership and jurisdiction, at para. 56, 56(A), 57, 58, 59, 60 - 63. There was also an application for a declaration that Provincial jurisdiction over the Territory (a defined area) is "subject to the Plaintiffs right to ownership and jurisdiction". See also Delgamuukw v British Columbia [1997] S.C.R. 1010 (Opening Statement of the plaintiff at 21). This was essentially a claim for absolute sovereignty. 5 5 The claim was modified and at the Court of Appeal, counsel distinguished between absolute sovereignty and modified sovereignty (although not in these precise terms). 56 Delgamuukw v British Columbia (1993)104 DLR (4th) 470 at 520 per Macfarlane J . 79 the Supreme Court of C a n a d a did comment and expressly left open the question of whether self-government is a right protected by section 35(1). Lamer C J wrote: In the courts below, considerable attention was given to the question of whether s. 35(1) can protect a right to self-government, and if so, what the contours of that right are. The errors of fact made by the trial judge, and the resultant need for a new trial, make it impossible for this Court to determine whether the claim to self-government has been made out. Moreover , this is not the right case for the Court to lav down the legal principles to guide future litigation. The parties s e e m to have acknowledged this point, perhaps implicitly, by giving the arguments on self-government much less weight on appeal . One source of the decreased emphas is on the right to self-government on appeal is this Court 's judgment Pamajewon. There, I held that the rights to self-government, if they existed, cannot be framed in excess ive ly general terms. The appellants did not have the benefit of my judgment at trial. Unsurprisingly, as counsel for the Wet 'suwet 'en specifically concedes , the appellants advanced the right to self-government in very broad terms, and therefore in a manner not cognizable under s. 35(1). [Emphasis added ] . 5 7 A s a result, Lamer C J concluded that, "the issue of self-government will fall to be determined at t r ia l" . 5 8 Therefore, after Delgamuukw, the question of whether the 5 7 Aboven52 at 1114 -1115. » Ibid at 1115. 80 c o m m o n law right of self-government was constitutionally protected under section 35(1) was still open for question. However , the Court did reiterate the limitation expressed in R v Pamajewon that a claim of self-government must not be made in excess ive ly general terms. Finally, in 2001, the Supreme Court of British Co lumbia considered the validity of the self-government provisions in the Nisga 'a Treaty in Campbell v British Columbia. Wil l iamson J acknowledged that a limited form of self-government, which the Nisga 'a maintained after the assertion of sovereignty, was modified in the Nisga 'a treaty and protected by section 35(1) . 5 9 In reaching this decision, Campbel l J stated that: A n y d iscuss ion of the recognition by courts of the survival of a limited right of self-government in aboriginal peoples in North A m e r i c a must start with three celebrated decis ions of the long serving Chief Just ice of the United States, John Marshal l , all decided in the first third of the 19th century . 6 0 Wil l iamson J relied on Marshal l C J ' s cases , particularly in their consideration of British imperial po l icy . 6 1 He referred to Johnson v Mcintosh as recognising that the exertion of British sovereignty had not extinguished, but only diminished, the 5 9 Above n 25 at 376. See also s 24 of the Nisga'a Treaty, where "modification" not "extinguishment" was used. » Ibid at 356. 6 1 /h/d. 81 inherent aboriginal right to self-government." 6 2 Relying on Marshal l C J ' s judgments, including Worcester v Georgia, Wil l iamson J . found support for an aboriginal right to self-government, recognised by section 35(1) and constitutionally enforceable against the federal government. In considering the common law doctrine of an inherent right of aboriginal self-government, Canad ian courts have consistently looked to Marshal l C J ' s jurisprudence, including his judgment in Worcester v Georgia. Although it has not been ultimately decided whether section 35(1) includes an inherent right of self-government, it is clear that such a right exists. Canad i an courts have recognised the source of this inherent right as prior occupation and prior sovereignty, a recognition largely embracing notions articulated in Worcester v Georgia.63 T h e s e decis ions have recognised that the nature of the principles pronounced by Marshal l C J in Worcester v Georgia were principles that had ripened into a British common law doctrine of self-government. A s a result of this nature as a common law doctrine, Worcester v Georgia has been recognised as forming part of Canad ian c o m m o n law. Australia: Denial or Merely a Misunderstanding? « /b/dat 357. 6 3 Above n 50. 82 In Austral ia , there is no comparable self-government discourse. Despite the seemingly inseparable relationship between indigenous communal land title and recognition of self-government and decision-making powers, d iscuss ion of self-government and indigenous sovereignty has effectively been si lenced in legal d i s cou r se . 6 4 The first judicial consideration of Aboriginal rights and title was by the Federal Court in 1971 in Milirrpum v Nabalco65 Blackburn J relied on Lord Watson ' s judgment in Cooper v Stuarf56 in maintaining the legal fiction that Austral ia w as terra nullius and a settled colony under the doctrine of discovery. Despite embracing this broadened notion of the doctrine of d i scove ry , 6 7 Blackburn J rejected the operation of United States ca se law in Aus t r a l i a . 6 8 Worcester v Georgia w as restricted to its facts, the validity of Georgia ' s legislation, and deemed not re levant . 6 9 This w as despite the recognition that Marshal l C J "surveyed the history of colonization on the North A m e r i c a n continent". 7 0 Blackburn J concluded that native title w a s abrogated by the doctrine of terra nullius.7^ 6 4 See Michael Mansell, "The Bicentenary and Aboriginal Sovereignty" (1988) Law Institute Journal 1206 at 1207. See also Larissa Behrendt, "Slicing the Circle: Treaty, Native Title, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Compartmentalizing of Indigenous Rights in Australia" (Paper presented to the Indigenous Bar Association Conference in Ottawa, 2000) [unpublished] in a section titled, "The S-Word" at 4; Dianne Otta, "A Question of Law or Politics? Indigenous Claims to Sovereignty in Australia" [1995] 21 Syracuse J . Int'l L. & Com. 65. 65 Milirrpum v Nabalco PtyLtd and the Commonwealth (1971) FLR 141. Similar to Canada, Aboriginal people were denied access to the courts for numerous reasons, including a perceived inability to take the oath and therefore give evidence. 66 Cooper v Stuart (1889) App Cas 286. 67 Mabo v Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1 ("Mabo (No. 2j") per Brennan J. Above n 65 at 218. /b/c/at 216. 7°/b/d at 215. 7 1 /6/d at 262. 83 The question of absolute Aboriginal sovereignty was raised in Coe v Commonwealth (1979) ("Coe (No. 1)").72 The High Court rejected this absolute sovereignty claim on the basis that the validity of the Crown ' s sovereignty cannot be cha l l enged . 7 3 G i b b s J rejected the adoption of Marshal l C J ' s judgment in Cherokee Nation v Georgia, the second decis ion in the Marshal l trilogy, on the basis that the history of the colonial relationship in the United States w a s "different" from Austral ia . In 1992, the High Court of Austral ia recognised native title in Mabo (No. 2). With inherently conflicting reasoning, Dawson J dist inguished United States cases , including Worcester v Georgia, on the basis that First Nations were regarded as "domestic dependent nations", retaining a certain degree of sovereignty but still recognised that native title owes much to the celebrated judgment of Marshal l C J in Johnson v. Mcintosh.74 In Wik Peoples v Queensland,75 Kirby J also distinguished United States jurisprudence because of the recognition of aboriginal peoples as nations with inherent powers of a limited sovereignty that had never been extinguished. Kirby J stated that this is not the relationship that indigenous people of Austral ia enjoy with the Austral ian legal system. In Coe (No. 2),76 M a s o n C J affirmed Gibbs J 7 2 (1979) 24 A.L.R. 118. This case and its associated problems were considered in detail in Chapter 2. 7 3 /bid at 132 per Jacobs J, at 138 per Murphy J , at 138 per Gibbs J and at 128 per Aitkin J concurring with Gibbs J . 7 4 Above n 67 at 135 per Dawson J . 75 Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996) 141 A. L. R. 129. 7 6 Coe v Commonwealth (1993) 118 A.L.R. 193 ("Coe (No. 2j"). This was referring to Marshall CJ's decision in Cherokee Nation v Georgia. 84 statement in Coe (No.1) that the notion of domest ic dependent nation is not applicable in Austral ia . Austra l ian courts have consistently rejected notions of Aboriginal sovereignty and the applicability of Marshal l C J ' s jurisprudence, including Worcester v Georgia. WHY DOES CANADA ACCEPT WHILE AUSTRALIA REJECT WORCESTER V GEORGIA? Just ice C h a p m a n in the N e w Zea land Supreme Court decision in R v Symonds,77 classified the Marshal l trilogy as clearly based on: the principles of the c o m m o n law as applied and adopted from the earliest t imes by the colonial l a w s . 7 8 This is further recognition of the imperial colonial origins, as articulated in Worcester v Georgia that underscores the doctrine of Aboriginal self-government. A s a result, Worcester v Georgia is relevant in both C a n a d a and Austral ia . The question then 7 7 (1847) [1840- 1932] NZPCC 387. 78 Ibid at 392. He was actually referring to Cherokee Nation v Georgia, however, from the preceding paragraphs, this statement clearly extrapolates to Johnson v Mcintosh and Worcester v Georgia. See also the Privy Council decision in Amodu Tijani v Secretary, Southern Nigeria [1921] 2 A.C. 399 (P.C.), where the Privy Council held that the common law could affirm and give effect to rights held under Aboriginal law. 85 becomes , why has this doctrine been received with such different responses in C a n a d a and Austral ia? Austral ia has not embraced the doctrine of self-government because of a flawed understanding of the decis ion in Worcester v Georgia and the doctrine of self-government. The principal reason Austral ian courts have given for rejecting this jurisprudence is that Austral ia is "different" from the United States. But isn't C a n a d a also "different" from the United Sta tes? The "difference" that Austral ian courts have relied on in rejecting the Marshal l trilogy can be seen in Gibbs J's judgment in Coe (No. 1) where he states that: . . . it is not possible to say, as was said by Marshal l C J . . . that the Aboriginal people of Austral ia are organised as a "distinct political society separated from others", or they have been uniformly treated as a state. [Emphasis added] . 7 9 The "difference" referred to seems to be merely that treaties have not been signed in Austral ia but have been signed in the United States. However, the lack of treaties is a matter of historical fact and does not infer that Australia is not legally required to recognise Aboriginal sovereignty and Aboriginal self-government. If the "difference" 7 9 Above n 72 at 128 - 129. The reference is to Marshall CJ in Cherokee Nation v Georgia above n 3 at 16. 8 6 is a social Darwinist indication of the evolutionary scale, on which Aboriginal Austral ians are often placed at the bottom, this is unacceptable. However, the rejection of this jurisprudence in Austral ia is not because of a "difference" between the treatment of indigenous peoples in the United States and the treatment of indigenous peoples in Austral ia . Rather, the rejection of this jurisprudence is based on a mistaken interpretation of Worcester v Georgia, the Marshal l trilogy and the doctrine of self-government. The real false assumption that Austral ian courts relied on in interpreting and rejecting the Marshal l jurisprudence is that it recognises absolute Aboriginal sovereignty that exists in opposition to C r o w n sovereignty. Therefore, rather than relying on an assumption of difference between Austral ia and the United States in rejecting Worcester v Georgia, Austral ian courts (and plaintiffs) have construed the Marshal l trilogy in such a manner so that "domestic dependent nations" is equivalent to absolute Westphal ian state sovereignty that exists in opposition to Crown sovere ignty . 8 0 The Court interpreted the Marshal l trilogy in this way for two reasons. First, because that was the manner it was presented to the Court in the statement of claim and secondly, because of an embedded notion (or the acceptance of the plaintiffs embedded notion) that every claim to sovereignty must be a claim to separate and absolute state sovereignty. This is the flawed assumption upon which this jurisprudence was rejected. With respect, Austral ian 8 0 These terms are explained in detail in Chapter 2. 87 courts faijed to comprehend the distinction between absolute state sovereignty, a notion recognised in international law and identified with the P e a c e of Westphal ia , and modified sovereignty, which does not chal lenge the Crown sovereignty and in fact exists harmoniously with C r o w n sovereignty. Therefore, the divergent interpretation of Worcester v Georgia in C a n a d a and Austral ia is not because Canad i an law is somehow more "similar" to United States law, but rather, because of a flawed understanding of the case in Austral ia . Austral ian courts have failed to comprehend that Worcester v Georgia is a statement of British colonial common law and not merely Amer i can law. CONCLUSION Worcester v Georgia is an historic case , recognising an inherent aboriginal right of self-government. W h e n Chief Just ice Marshal l handed down the United States Supreme Court decision in 1832, this pre-existing right of self-government had ripened into a rule of common law applicable to British co lon ie s . 8 1 Inherent self-government has been considered by several Canad i an courts and accepted by a Canad ian court. In contrast, Austral ian courts and governments have vehemently rejected the notion that Aboriginal sovereignty and self-government exist and have sought to distinguish the situation in the United States. The explanation of 8 1 Above n 35 at 89. 88 "difference", used by the High Court of Austral ia in Coe (No. 1), does not hold up under scrutiny, given the imperial colonial common law notions underpinning Marshal l C J ' s judgment. The challenge Austral ian courts now face is recognising the previously flawed interpretation of this case and moving beyond this interpretation in order to reconsider and recognise the applicability in Austral ia of Worcester v Georgia and its consideration of self-government as a statement of British c o m m o n law. 89 Chapter Four NATIVE TITLE & SELF-GOVERNMENT In 1992, a revolutionary High Court decis ion altered the way in which Aboriginal land rights were understood. In Mabo (No. 2),: for the first time there was judicial recognition of native title, an Aboriginal right to land. Although this decis ion instigated a wide variety of discussions, I explore the relationship between native title and self-government. By analysing native title in this manner, one realises that self-government is recognised as an aspect of native title and already operates within the Austral ian legal system. In this chapter, I outline the decision in Mabo (No. 2) before considering two arguments that chal lenge the contemporary acceptance of a manufactured separation between land and sovereignty. B y considering native title and its inter-relationship with self-government, it becomes apparent that self-government can be, and is, recognised by the Austral ian legal sys tem. In Mabo (No. 2), Brennan J wrote: In discharging the duty to declare the common law of Austral ia , this Court is not free to adopt rules that accord with contemporary notions of justice and 1 (1992) 175 CLR 1. 90 human rights if their adoption would fracture the skeleton of principle which gives the body of our law its shape and internal cons is tency . 2 Importantly, the recognition of self-government, as was the case with the recognition of native title, does not fracture the skeleton of the Austral ian legal system. THE LAND RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA There has been a long history of protest demanding Aboriginal land rights in Aus t ra l i a . 3 The modern land rights movement began with the Gurindji 's W a v e Hill walk-off in the 1960 's , 4 saw the Yolgnu ' s unsuccessful struggle to prevent bauxite mining on their traditional l and , 5 the establishment and maintenance of the 2 Ibid a\ 29. 3 See Henry Reynold's work for a history of early protest, in particular The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia (Ringwood: Penguin, 1982). For the lead-up to the modern land rights movement, see David Hollingsworth, Race and Racism in Australia (Katoomba: Social Sciences Press, 1998) at 168. 4 The first formal protest for land was the walk-off at Wave Hill cattle station by the Gurindji people. In August 1966 the Gurindji people went on strike demanding wages and the return of their traditional lands. Although their demand was rejected, the Gurindji camped on their land, breaking Australian law. Support was found throughout the northern Territory and across Australia and eventually the Gurindji won title to part of their land. In an important symbolic gesture, Prime Minister Golf Whitlam poured earth through the hands of Vincent Lingiari, a Gurindji elder and a principal activist in the Wave Hill walkoff. See Yunupingu, Galarrwuy, Our Land is Our Life: Land Rights- Past, Present and Future. (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1997) at 5. 5 In the 1960's, the Federal Government decided to establish a bauxite mine in Arnhem land, traditional Yolgnu territory. In response the Yolgnu people sent a petition to the House of Representatives demanding their land rights be respected. The petition was on bark, with a border of paintings illustrating the importance of the land, and in the centre a written explanation of the paintings. It was a protest that involved both traditional and non-traditional ways of expressing the importance of the land. The bark petition provoked legal action and a government inquiry. Despite this, the mine went ahead. Justice Blackburn, of the Northern Territory Supreme Court, had to decide whether the Yolgnu had any legal right to their land. In Milirrpum v Nabalco (1971) 17 FLR 141, he decided that the common law of Australia was not "cogniscant of native title" and that the Yolgnu had "a more cogent feeling of obligation to the land than ownership of it". The decision of Milirrpum v Nabalco was strongly criticised and even the High Court of Australia had reservations. Despite the negative result of Milirrpum v Nabalco, where native title was not recognised, some positive actions did follow as there was a growing awareness of Aboriginal rights. The Whitlam Labor Government appointed the Woodward Royal Commission, which recommended a statutory land rights scheme. This scheme was enacted, and after some 91 Aboriginal tent embassy , 6 and culminated in the High Court 's decis ion in Mabo (No. 2). High hopes followed this decis ion and it was considered by many to be the culmination of 30 years of activism in the modern land rights movement. However , this has not proved to be the case . Conservat ive legislation and increasingly conservative interpretations of native title principles has meant that most developments s ince Mabo (No. 2) have eroded, rather than developed indigenous rights. THE MABO DECISIONS In M a y 1982, three Murray (Mer) Islanders, Eddie Mabo , David Pas s i and J a m e s Rice , instituted proceedings against the State of Queens land on behalf of the Mer iam people. They argued that the Mer iam people had occupied the islands since time immemorial in established communit ies with unique social and political organization. A s a result, they argued that they had native title rights. In response, Queens land denied that the Mer iam people had any native title rights at all . unfavourable amendments by the Fraser Liberal Government due to the pressure from mining and pastoral industry groups, it was passed as the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth). Other states followed the Northern Territory and enacted similar legislation. Despite the watering down of the Northern Territory legislation by the Fraser Government, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) has been very important. It was the first legislative recognition of an Aboriginal right to land. It has allowed Aboriginal people legal recognition of what they have always known, that the land is theirs. By 1996 more than 50% of the Northern Territory had been handed back. 6 The tent embassy was set up in 1972 in response to Prime Minister William McMahon's Australia Day speech. A number of Aboriginal people, including Paul Coe, Gary Foley and Dennis Walker (founders of the Black Panther Party of Australia) set up a beach umbrella (which was later replaced by tents) opposite Parliament house in Canberra. It was called the Aboriginal Embassy because, as Gary Foley stated, "Aborigines were treated like aliens in their own land." The tent embassy gained huge support across Australia for Aboriginal land rights and remains today. Gary Foley, quoted in David Hollingsworth, Race and Racism in Australia (Katoomba: Social Sciences Press, 1998) at 175. 92 However , just to be sure, the Queens land Government enacted the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985 (Qld) ("Queensland Act"). The Queens land Act: . . . retrospectively abol ished all such rights and interests as the Murray Islanders may have owned and enjoyed before its enactment. 7 In 1988, in Mabo v Queensland ("Mabo (No. 1)"),8 the High Court held that if the Queens land Act were sufficiently "clear and plain" it would extinguish native title. However , the majority held that the Queens land Act was invalid because it contravened section's 9 and 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) (Cth).9 The quest ion of whether the Mer iam people had native title rights over their lands was still undecided. O n 3 June 1992 the High Court handed down its decis ion in Mabo (No. 2). For the first time in Austral ia there was recognition of native title as a common law right. The High Court held that native title is a legal right to land, recognised by the c o m m o n 7 Above n 1 at 196 per Mason CJ quoting Queensland counsel. See also at 210 where Brennan, Toohey and Gaudron JJ also quoted Queensland counsel: . It has the effect that those rights which might otherwise have survived annexation in 1879 are deemed not to have survived and, for the purposes of 1985, never to have survived. 8 (1988) 166 CLR 186. 9 Section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act provides for rights to equality before the law. Brennan, Deane, Toohey and Gaudron JJ held that the Queensland Act was inconsistent with section 10(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act. Wilson and Dawson JJ dissented on this issue and Mason CJ did not comment. In regards to section 9 of the Racial Discrimination Act, Mason CJ, Wilson and Dawson JJ held that the Queensland Act was not inconsistent. Section 9 of the Racial Discrimination Act is the provision that declares racial discrimination to be unlawful. The High Court split on - this issue. The remaining judges did not comment on section 9. 93 law upon the colonisation of Austral ia , that continues until extinguished by the government by clear and plain intention. The High Court declared that: . . . the Mer iam people are entitled as against the whole world to p o s s e s s i o n . 1 0 The High Court 's recognition of native title was not the creation of a new right previously foreign to the c o m m o n law, but an acknowledgment of the reception of native title into the common law. A s Garth Nettheim comments : The Mabo decis ion wa s revolutionary to the extent that it correctly applied the common law after years of misappl icat ion. 1 1 The judgement did not confine itself to Murray (Mer) Island. The High Court declared the common law for all Aus t r a l i a . 1 2 This complex decis ion considered the impact of colonisation on indigenous land rights, the doctrine of terra nullius, and the existence and limitations of native title rights and interests. Before considering the implications of this case for self-government, it is necessary to consider a peculiar aspect of this decis ion that 1 0 Above n 1 at 2. See also Brennan J at 76 and Toohey J at 217. 1 1 Garth Nettheim, Gary Meyers & Donna Craig, Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures: A Comparative Analysis of Land and Resource Management Rights (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2002) at 238. For a more in depth discussion of this concept of law, see Ronald Dworkin, Law's Empire (Cambridge: Balknap Press, 1986) Cf: H.L.A Hart, The Concept of Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994). 1 2 Above n 1 at 2. See also Mason CJ and McHugh J at 15. See also Lisa Strelein, "Aboriginal Land Rights in Australia" (Native Title Research Unit at Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1999) [unpublished] at <http://www.firstpeoples.org/land_rights/australia/land_rights_in_australia.htm>. 94 distinguished land rights from sovereignty. This distinction forms the basis for understanding both the current and potential relationship between native title and self-government in Austral ia . In Mabo (No. 2), the High Court explicitly dist inguished between questions of land rights and questions of sovereignty. Al though this is partially a result of the particular question before the Court, a question of land rights, the High Court did express ly draw this distinction. The clearest express ion of this distinction is by Just ice Brennan. Just ice Brennan distinguished between the Crown 's title to a colony and the Crown 's ownership of land in a c o l o n y . 1 3 He noted that sovereignty vested in the C r o w n is of two kinds, either "the power of government" or "title to the country". 1 4 The distinction is that the former is only capable of belonging to a sovereign whereas the latter can belong to anyone. Further: The acquisit ion of territory is chiefly the province of international law; the acquisit ion of property is chiefly the province of the common l a w . 1 5 13 Ibid at 43-45. 1 4 to/d at 44. 15 Ibid. 95 A s a result of this distinction, the High Court was able to recognise native title without considering the question of the continuing existence of modified Aboriginal sovereignty or Aboriginal self-government . 1 6 Therefore, self-government and native title are considered to be two distinct concepts. Although I agree that the inherent right of self-government is a separate right, I argue that these two rights inter-relate and that in fact, the recognition of native title necessari ly involves recognition and exercise of aspects of the inherent right of self-government. In summary, native title has been recognised as a common law right in Austral ia . However, in recognising native title, the Court has drawn an artificial distinction between questions of land rights and questions of sovereignty. Despite this distinction and the overwhelming trend to restrict the rights and interests that flow from native title, there are two aspects of native title, as it exists today, that provide intriguing insights into the operation of and prospects for self-government in Austral ia . 1 6 Canadian jurisprudence has not drawn such a stark division between questions of land rights and questions of sovereignty. In Delgamuukw, a decision that ultimately played a similar role in Canadian jurisprudence as Mabo (No. 2) by recognising Aboriginal title. In Delgamuukw, the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en claimed "ownership and jurisdiction". See Delgamuukw v British Columbia [1997] S.C.R. 1010 (Opening Statement of the plaintiff at 21). See also Delgamuukw v British Columbia [1997] S.C.R. 1010 (Statement of Claim at para. 56, 56(A) and 57). In both the trial court and Court of Appeals' decisions, the claim for jurisdiction was dismissed. Although the Court of Appeal decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, only issues relating to Aboriginal title were argued and the Supreme Court of Canada was not directly confronted with issues of jurisdiction. However, despite the construction of the question before the Supreme Court, that Court's judgment addressed primarily the title issues. See discussion above at page 77. 96 COMMUNAL NATIVE TITLE AND SELF-GOVERNMENT In Mabo (No. 2), the High Court recognised that native title is a communal r ight . 1 7 Sect ion 223 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), consistent with the c o m m o n law position, also defines native title as a communal r ight . 1 8 T h e common law recognition of native title as a communal right requires the existence of a communal decis ion-making authority and decis ion-making structure to exercise the communal r ight . 1 9 It implies recognition of decis ion-making power and decis ion-making authority by Aboriginal communit ies. A s a result, recognition of native title as a communal right includes an implied recognition that the Aboriginal community must have at least a degree of self-government necessary to allocate the use of land to which a title extends. Therefore, as a communal title: 1 7 Interestingly, their communal title was recognised despite their traditional laws and customs containing no concept of community title. Instead, title was held by individuals or family groups; per Brennan J in Mabo (No. 2) at 22. Kent McNeil interprets the Meriam peoples' communal title as originating and deriving its content from their exclusive occupation as a community of the Island of Mer rather than from their traditional laws or customs, per Kent McNeil, Emerging Justice: Essays on Indigenous Rights in Australia and Canada (Saskatoon: Houghton Boston Printers, 2001) at 422. See also Toohey J in Mabo v State of Queensland (1992) 175 CLR 1 C'Mabo (No. 2j") at 188-92. However, this does not restrict the application of Meriam laws and customs in determining the existence and content of individual and group rights within the Meriam community. Therefore, despite the construction of a communal nature of title for the Meriam people, it is clear that the High Court in Mabo (No. 2) recognised native title as a communal right. See Brennan J in Mabo (No. 2) at 61-63. 1 8 Section 223 (1) states "The expression native title or native title rights and interests means the communal, group or individual rights and interests of Aboriginal peoples or Torres Strait Islanders in relation to land or waters. 1 9 The communal nature "presupposes the existence of community authority that must be governmental in nature", per Kent McNeil, "Self-Government and the Inalienability of Aboriginal Title" (2002) 47 McGill Law Journal 473. 97 . . . decis ion making authority over Aboriginal or native title lands rests with the community involved. Aboriginal title therefore has governmental attributes that make it much more than a property r ight . 2 0 The relationship between communal title and self-government is most clearly expressed in Canad ian jurisprudence where the communal nature of Aboriginal title in C a n a d a , the equivalent of native title in Austral ia , has also been recognised. In Delgamuukw,21 the Supreme Court of C a n a d a defined aboriginal title as a: . . . collective right to land held by all members of an aboriginal nation. Decis ions with respect to that land are also made by that community. This is another feature of aboriginal title which is sui generis and dist inguishes it from normal property rights. [Emphasis added] . 2 2 The Supreme Court of C a n a d a recognised that as a communal right, there is an implied recognition that the aboriginal community must have at least a degree of decis ion-making power or self-government necessary to allocate the use of land to which title extends. Expanding this point, Just ice Wil l iamson of the Supreme Court of British Co lumbia in Campbell v British Columbia,23 recognised that: 2°/Wdat para 42. 21 Delgamuukw v British Columbia (1997) 3 SCR 1010. 22 Ibid at 1082-1083. Aboriginal title "encompasses within it a right to choose to what ends a piece of land can be put" at 1113. See Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333 at 366 - 367. 23 Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333. 9 8 O n the face of it, it s e ems a right to aboriginal title, a communal right which includes occupation and use, must of necessity include the right of the communal ownership to make decis ions about that occupation and use, matters commonly descr ibed as governmental . This s eems essential when the ownership is communal . [Emphasis added] . 2 4 Canad ian courts have recognised that the right of a community to make decis ions regarding the use of the land is a fundamental aspect of aboriginal title. The right of a community to make decis ions regarding the use of the land includes the right to have a political structure for making those decis ions. Therefore, in C a n a d a and, I suggest, in common sense, the right of an aboriginal community to decide the use for the land encompassed by aboriginal title is an exercise of the right of self-government. Like Canad ian aboriginal title, the communal nature of native title in Austral ia must entail a continuing right of self-government. A s McNe i l notes:, . . . given the nature of the right to full beneficial ownership of the land, a determination of possessory native title in Austral ia , like its counterparts in * Ibid ai 362. 99 North Amer ica , must necessari ly include the rights to manage the land and make decis ions about the uses of the land subject to possessory native title. 2 5 The logical implication that the communal nature of native title necessari ly entails decis ion-making powers to some degree has received recognition as an element of native title. The Federal Court in both Miriuwung Gajerrong d e c i s i o n s , 2 6 at first instance and in the Full Court, confirmed that native title confers the right to manage and determine the uses of the land according to Aboriginal laws and customs. Likewise , the consent determination affirmed in Hayes v Northern Territory27 recognised the rights of common law native title holders to "make decis ions about the use of the land and waters" . 2 8 In affirming this consent determination, Olney J of the Federal Court, stated that this right to make decis ions: . . . would be a normal adjunct of the recognition of native title rights and interests in l a n d . 2 9 25 Western Australia v Ward and Ors (2000) 170 ALR 159 at 212-213 and Ward v Western Australia (1998) 159 ALR 483 at 645. 26 Western Australia v Ward and Ors (2000) 170 ALR 159 at 32 and Ward and Ors v State of Western Australia and Ors (1998) 159 ALR 483 at 639-40; The High Court decision, Western Australia v Ward (2002) 191 ALR 1 did not address this issue. 2 7 [1999] FCA 1248 (Unreported, 9 September 1999). The court order required parties to confer in order to agree on the final form of the determination. See also Hayes v Northern Territory [2000] FCA 671 (Unreported, 23 May 2000) for the final determination, especially subsections 3(d) and 3(f). 2 8 Lisa Strelein.'The Vagaries of Native Title: Partial Recognition of Aboriginal Law in the Alice Springs Native Title Case: Hayes v Northern Territory* (2000) 4:26 Indigenous Law Bulletin 13. 2 9 Above n 27 at para 51. 100 More recently, the native title determination in Rubibi Community v Western Australia30 was consistent with the decis ion in Hayes v Northern Territory and included "the right to make decis ions about the use and enjoyment of the area" . 3 1 The consistent recognition that native title rights and interests include a right to manage and make decis ions about the land indicates that this position is not contentious in Austral ian native title law. Therefore, the distinction between land rights and sovereignty that the High Court took in Mabo (No. 2) is not reflected in current native title determinations. These determinations recognise decis ion-making powers that are governmental in nature as an aspect of native title. A further illustration of the governmental nature of native title is revealed when examining the classification of native title as "proprietary". Justice Brennan held that native title is a "proprietary community title". 3 2 Deane and Gaudron J J , in a joint judgment, supported Brennan J's conclusion that native title was a proprietary interest by determining that the extinguishment of native title would amount to an acquisit ion of property within section 51 (xxxi) of the Commonwealth Constitution.33 Therefore, although the Court divided on this issue in Mabo (No. 2), the prevalent view is that native title is a proprietary interest. A s Richard Bartlett wr i tes : 3 4 30 Rubibi Community v Western Australia [2001 ] 112 FCR 409. 3 1 /b /d at 452. 3 2 Above n 1 at 52 per Brennan J . 33 Ibid at 111 per Deane and Gaudron JJ . 3 4 Kent McNeil, Emerging Justice: Essays on Indigenous Rights in Canada and Australia (Saskatoon: Houghton Boston Printers, 2001) at 416. 101 In accordance with general principles, the High Court has recognised the proprietary nature of native title . . . Native title is afforded the degree of protection and enforceability 'against the whole world ' due a proprietary interest . 3 5 Whilst communal title obviously has a proprietary aspect, it also has social , cultural and political d imensions that are beyond the scope of standard conceptions of private property. This is illustrated by the restricted options of alienation available to native title holders. General ly , private property is alienable to indiv iduals . 3 6 In contrast, native title can only be surrendered to or acquired by the Crown or other Aboriginal communi t i e s . 3 7 Native title is only alienable to the Crown because it is only alienable to an entity that has governmental capacity. Private persons who have no authority to govern cannot acguire native title for themselves, because they do not have a governmental capac i ty . 3 8 The restrictions on alienation indicate that native title is more than a property right. This is because of its political and governmental aspects . 3 5 Richard Bartlett, Native Title in Australia (Butterworths: Sydney, 2000) at 197. This is the conclusion of the section, "The Proprietary Nature of Native Title', beginning at 184. 3 6 Restrictions may apply and certain individuals may have priority (in the case of options), however, it is generally the case that private property may be alienated to individuals, corporations or in some cases, the Crown. 3 7 Above n 1 at 59 - 60, 70 per Brennan J , at 88,110 per Deane and Gaudron JJ, at 194 per Toohey J. 3 8 This is also consistent with a foundational common law principle, that only the Crown can acquire new title. See Chapman J in R v Symonds (1847) [1840 - 1932]' NZPCC 387 at 389 - 390. 102 It is important to note the limitations of the argument that communal title involves the recognition of decision-making powers and to emphas ise the relationship between this recognition of self-government as an aspect of native title and the inherent right of self-government. Taken to its logical conclusion, communal native title infers decis ion-making power to make decis ions relating to land. T h e s e are the dec is ion-making powers that have been recognised by Austral ian courts, where recognition has been limited to decis ions that are directly related to land or resources. This includes dec is ions such as how to manage, use and enjoy the land. It is difficult to logically imply that a communal land title requires decis ion-making power for decis ions other than land, for example, for education or criminal justice. This is because native title is a right to land. Despite the governmental aspects of this proprietary right, native title is not a right to autonomy or to govern according to Aboriginal law. This limitation could restrict the manner in which self-government is recognised as an aspect of native title to decisions relating to land and resources. But, this limitation is not fatal to the recognition of an inherent right of self-government. C o m m o n law self-government is a separate, but related, legal doctrine, emanat ing from British colonial law. The decis ion-making recognised as an aspect of native title, decis ion-making towards land, is properly characterised as an exercise of the inherent right of self-government. I now consider a second argument that also disputes the distinction drawn between land rights and sovereignty. 103 AN ABORIGINAL RIGHT TO LAND AND SELF-GOVERNMENT: BEYOND SOCIAL DARWINISM Land is a foundational concept in Austral ian law. Land is also central in Aboriginal law. However, these are two strikingly different concept ions of land. This has often caused confusion and as a result, Aboriginal rights and interests have often been extinguished, diminished or simply not recognised. Austral ian relationships to land are predominantly constructed by notions of property and ownership. Proprietary interests are afforded the highest protection under the law. A characterisation as property indicates that property remedies enforceable against the whole world will attach to the-interest. S u c h remedies ensure the integrity of the interest . 3 9 In the High Court 's decision in Miriuwung Gajerrong, Justice Cal l inan explained the importance of property in describing the British arriving with: 3 9 Above n 35 at 184. 104 . . . their c o m m o n and statutory law which had long included a doctrine of adverse possess ion and settled notions about the use and occupation of land. These were closely connected ideas: land was to be used and enjoyed, and those who possessed , used and enjoyed the land should own it, albeit, at first, transiently. Just ice Cal l inan notes the important of use and occupation in determining ownership of land. The most striking example of the pre-eminence of use and occupat ion in Austral ian law is Just ice Blackburn 's decis ion in Milirrpum v Nabalco40 in his articulation of what constitutes'property': I think that property, in its many forms, generally implies the right to use or enjoy, the right to exclude others, and the right to a l ienate . 4 1 However, relationships to land are not just defined by property use and ownership. Relat ionships to land may also be emotional. This emotional tie may be a familial connection, such as third generation farmers, or feelings of joy, fear or recognition of the sublime. Although relationships to land in dominant Austral ian society tend to be characterised by a relationship of use and ownership, they also often involve emotional interactions. However , despite this emotional connection to the land, the "0(1971) 17FLR141. 4 1 /t>/'dat 272. 105 dominant perception of land in Austral ian society is starkly different to Aboriginal relationships to land. Land is central to traditional Aboriginal cosmology and social organization. The link between people, plant, animal, ancestral beings, morality and law make one's country an essential defining force in human relat ions. 4 2 Galarrwuy Yunupingu explains the importance of land to Aboriginal people: . . . land is all life . . . we are part of the land and the land is part of us. It cannot be one or the other. W e cannot be separated by anything or anybody . 4 3 The inseparable nature of person and land expressed by Galarrwuy Yunupingu is echoed by S i las Roberts: It is true that the people who are belonging to a particular area are really part of that area and if that area is destroyed they are also des t royed . 4 4 It w as in the Dreamtime that this complex relationship was e s t ab l i shed . 4 5 The Dreamtime is an indefinable past era when Australia was inhabited only by 4 2 Deborah Rose, Nourishing Terrains: Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness (Canberra: Australian Heritage Commission, 1996) in David Hollingsworth, Race and Racism in Australia (Katoomba: Social Sciences Press, 1998) at 174. 4 3 Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Our Land is Our Life: Land Rights- Past, Present and Future (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1997) at 2. 4 4 Silas Roberts, former Chair of the Northern Land Council, from Fox R.W., "Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry" 2nd Report (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1977) quoted in Paul Kaffman, Wik, Mining and Aborigines (St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards). 106 djugudani and malbu.46 These spirits roamed the land, creating landmarks, such as rivers, hills and rock formations. At various s tages the spirits left the first Aboriginal people on the land, and left the language and law in the land. The ancestral beings left a master design for life. W h e n the Dreamtime ended, the Dreaming creatures metamorphosed into natural features, such as a mountain or a star. Their life e s sence stays forever, so the Dreamtime continues. Aboriginal people refer to their heritage from the Dreamtime as the Law. This L a w is evident in natural features in the land, a constant reminder of the need to uphold the Law. A s Gagadju Elder, Bill Neidjie sa id: Our story is in the land .... it is written in those sacred places. My children will look after those places, that's the law. Dreaming place .... you can't change it, no matter who you are. No matter you rich man, no matter you king. Y o u can't change i t . 4 7 4 5 For a more detailed explanation of the Dreamtime, see Robert Tonkinson, The Mardudjara Aborigines: Living the Dream in Australia's Desert (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978); Ronald M. and Catherine H. Berndt, The World of the First Australians: Aboriginal Traditional Life: Past and Present, 5th ed. (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 1999). 4 6 These are Mardudjara words for ancestral beings and malevolent spirits respectively. 4 7 Bill Neidjie, Stephen Davis, Allan Fox, Kakadu Man ... Bill Neidjie (Sydney: Mybrood, 1985) at 47 - 48. See also Bill Neidjie, Story about Feeling (Broome: Magabala Books, 1989). T h e a r e in the original. 107 A s a result of the Dreaming, there is a complex relationship between land, law, language and identity. This complexity is indicated by the following quotes: Cus tomary law is what I am, the e ssence of an Aboriginal person is customary l a w . 4 8 It is my father's land, my grandfather's land, my grandmother 's land. I a m related to it, it give me my identity. If I don't fight for it, then I will be moved out of it and [it] will be the loss of my identity. 4 9 The land is not merely a symbol of the political survival and identity of Indigenous peoples, it is central to the worldview, the spirit and the history of all Indigenous peoples in Austral ia . The identities, language and relationships of Indigenous peoples all come from the land. [Emphasis added] . 5 0 In the final quote, L isa Strelein makes reference to indigenous identities, language and relationships that "all come from the land". This is an important concept that is central to Aboriginal conceptions of land. This concept ion of land is unparalleled in 4 8 Rosalie Monks speaking on Damien Carrick, "Customary Law and Anglo-Australian Law - Can They Mix?" ABC Radio (29 July 2003) <http://www.abc.net.aU/rn/talks/8:30/lawrpt/stories/s912416.htm>. 4 9 Father Dave Passi, plaintiff in the Mabo cases in Trevor Graham (Director), Land Bilong Islanders (Yarra Bank Films, 1990). 5 0 Lisa Strelein, "Aboriginal Land Rights in Australia" (Native Title Research Unit at Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1999) [unpublished] at <http://www.firstpeoples.org/land_rights/australia/land_rights_in_australia.htm>. 108 non-indigenous Austral ia . This is often not understood today, as it was not understood at the time of the colonial frontier. The relationship of Indigenous peoples to the land is that of a people, in this sense it is a collective identification and it is a permanent and inalienable identification. The spiritual and collective d imensions of the relationship were in direct contrast to the worldview of the colonists. The colonisers related to the land on an individual basis and on a commodity basis . They understood that the lands were or would become valuable to them and were unable or unwilling to understand and respect the relationship that Indigenous peoples held with those lands . 5 1 It is interesting to consider the interaction between colonial and Aboriginal concept ions of property with the advent of social Darwinism. Soc ia l Darwinism deve loped by applying scientific Darwinian theories of evolution to human societies. Herbert Spencer , a 19th century English philosopher, popularised Char les Darwin's biological work, "Origin of the Spec ies" ( I 8 6 0 ) 5 2 as "the survival of the fittest" and, in a vulgarised form, extended this beyond species and applied the theory to races. This created a pervasive consc iousness that certain races were superior to other r a c e s . 5 3 G iven that social Darwinism emanated from Europe, it is hardly surprising 51 Ibid. 5 2 Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: D. Appleton, 1860). 5 3 See Re Southern Rhodesia [1919] AC 211. 109 that the races placed at the "developed" and powerful end of the scale, were European nations. The races placed at the lower end of this scale of civilization were indigenous tribal peoples. Essentially, social Darwinism posited that the scale of civilization is an evolutionary process and that those races at the lower end of the scale merely needed to "evolve" and progress in an evolutionary process to the top end of the scale . This theory has both directly and indirectly has driven colonial policy towards indigenous people throughout the world for many years. Al though the support of social Darwinism has declined, it still underpins numerous judicial decis ions and provides a mindset difficult to overcome in order to recognise that indigenous peoples ' culture and legal sys tems are equally valid and important. A n interesting aspect of social Darwinism is that the races that were "civil ized" occupied the land in a manner fundamentally different to those placed at the lower end of the scale . The occupations that social Darwinism privileged were those that involved development of the land. This may have been farming, or more recently mining, but fundamentally involved building. Whether this involved building houses, court buildings or roads, it required some form of altering the land. These alterations to the land indicated the superiority of man over both beast and nature. Ironically, the fact that mankind has been so "successful" in altering the land, is now recognised as the cause of major environmental and health issues. The pollution of water sources, the extinction of thousands of spec ies with thousands more at risk, the damage to the ozone layer, mass deforestation, salinity issues, global warming 110 and the damage to complex reef systems are directly caused by the alteration of the land that has occurred so rapidly since the Industrial Revolut ion. In any event, for the purposes of socia l Darwinism, occupat ion that involved physical alteration of the land was privileged. This partially explains the placement of indigenous peoples at the "uncivilized" end of the scale. Al though indigenous uses of land vary, Aboriginal peoples in Australia were predominantly, but not exclusively, hunter-gatherer societies. This nomadic lifestyle required and nurtured a t remendous body of knowledge about the land and its resources. Development occurred in the complex spiritual relationship between land, language, law, time, animals and peop le . 5 4 Therefore, occupat ion of the land was not necessari ly accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle or physical development. Occupat ion of the land involved a complex spiritual relationship. A s this manner of occupation did not visibly reflect European notions of occupat ion, social Darwinian theorists classified Aboriginal people in Austral ia as uncivil ized. Just ice Blackburn 's decis ion in Milirrpum v Nabalco must be analysed keeping in mind this Darwinian conception of property and hierarchy. This judgment is an example of the failure to comprehend Aboriginal relationships to land. Blackburn J w a s faced with the question of whether the relationship to land in Yolgnu society was proprietary. Blackburn J wrote that: 5 4 Robert Tonkinson, The Mardudjara Aborigines: Living the Dream in Australia's Desert (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978). In particular, Chapter 1, "The Spiritual Imperative" at 14. 111 . . . the problem at present before the Court is to characterize what the Aboriginal relationship is as manifested by what they say and do to the land. [Emphasis added] . 5 5 Just ice Blackburn assumed that Yolgnu relationships to land are determined by what they "do to the land". This is also evident from his indicia of property, quoted above, which includes the "right to use and enjoy". Not surprisingly, Blackburn J failed to comprehend Yolgnu relationships to land and ultimately relied on the familiar: Austra l ian legal constructions of property and ownership. Blackburn J held: In my opinion, therefore, there is so little resemblance between property, as our law, or what I know of any other law, understands that term, and the claims of the plaintiffs for their clans, that I must hold that these claims are not in the nature of proprietary interests. The requirement that land ownership must be in accordance with common law understandings of property is grossly ethnocentric. Blackburn J completely failed to comprehend Aboriginal relationships to land and imposed one form of property ownership on the Yolgnu , assuming this form to be universal. However, forms of property ownership are not universal. Further, although referring to this exact 6 5 Above n 40 at 268-269. 112 passage, Blackburn J blatantly ignored the Privy Council's warning in Amodu Tijani v Secretary, Southern Nigeria {"Amodu Tijanf),56 where Viscount Haldane wrote: ... in interpreting the native title to land, not only in Southern Nigeria but in other parts of the British Empire, much caution in essential. There is a tendency, operating at times unconsciously, to redress that title conceptually in terms what are appropriate only to systems which have grown up under English law. But this tendency has to be held in check closely. [Emphasis added].57 The decision of Blackburn J in Milirrpum v Nabalco is a striking example of the difference between Australian conceptions of land and Aboriginal conceptions of land. The mistake Blackburn J made, by imposing common law indicia of what constitutes property, to Aboriginal conceptions of land, must not be repeated. The warning of Viscount Haldane must be heeded and social Darwinian constructions of race, hierarchy and land ownership must not be present in determining common law native title. In constructing native title in a manner that is respectful of Aboriginal relationships to land, one may see the utility of the concept of the inherent right of self-government. 6 6 [1921] 2 AC 399. 57 Ibid at 402 - 403. Blackburn J quoted Viscount Haldane in Milirrpum v Nabalco above n 40 at 284 - 285. 113 Native title is founded on the c o m m o n law recognition of the continued Aboriginal right to land under Aboriginal law. It recognises Aboriginal relationships to land. This can be seen in both the common law and statutory definitions of native title. The definition provided by the High Court in its opening summary in Mabo (No. 2) defined native title as reflecting the entitlement of Aboriginal people to their traditional lands in accordance with Aboriginal law. Sect ion 223 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) defines native title as an Aboriginal right "in relation to land or waters". Both these definitions define native title as an Aboriginal relationship to land. The centrality of this relationship to land is also evident in the use of the term "connection" in these defini t ions. 5 8 It is clear that recognition of Aboriginal relationships to land forms part of c o m m o n law native title. It is important to emphas ise that these are Aboriginal relationships to land that must be comprehended in a manner unimpeded by Austral ian constructs of what relationships to land should be. A n y imposition of Blackburn J's indicia of property or any other similar imposition harkens back to social Darwinism and fails to comprehend the centrality and importance of indigenous perceptions of their relationship to land. This is required not only by contemporary rights standards, which resolutely reject social Darwinian theories, but also by the nature of native title as an inherent right. A n inherent right s tems from Aboriginal law rather than from Parl iament or the Crown . Therefore, native title requires interpretation in accordance 6 8 Section 223(1 )(b) provides, "the Aboriginal peoples or Torres Strait Islanders, by those laws and customs, have a connection with the land or waters". 114 with Aboriginal relationships to land as distinct from an imposed interpretation relying on Austral ian common law norms of property, use and ownership of land. Therefore, given the nature of Aboriginal relationships to land, a relationship that is complex and necessari ly intertwined with law, language and identity, recognition of Aboriginal relationships to land as part of native title necessari ly involves a recognition of Aboriginal law, language and identity. This is recognition of Aboriginal law, not just as it relates to land, but Aboriginal law as a holistic legal sys tem. Therefore, not only is Aboriginal law as it relates to land recognised and affirmed by the Austral ian common law in its recognition of native title, but Aboriginal law is broadly recognised and affirmed by the common law. This has far greater ramifications for inherent self-government as it is not limited to decis ion-making powers relating to land and resources. CONCLUSION There are two ways in which native title and self-government are related concepts . These conflict with the formal manufactured distinction the High Court explicitly drew between questions of land rights and questions of sovereignty. The right of self-government, in relation to decis ions regarding land use, can be strongly established as an element of native title. In fact, this limited form of self-government has already been recognised in Austral ia . Further, the recognition of Aboriginal relationships to 115 land involves recognition of Aboriginal law, language and identity. By ensuring that Australian notions of property and land ownership are not imposed in determining Aboriginal relationships to land for the purposes of native title, the problems of social Darwinism are avoided and Viscount Haldane's warning in Amodu Tijani is heeded. It must be noted that both of these examples involved recognition of self-government occurring within the limits of native title. However, self-government is more than just an aspect of native title. The inherent right of self-government is a related, but separate right. Importantly, self-government, as shown by its existence a necessary aspect of native title, does not fracture the skeleton of the Australian legal system. 116 Chapter Five ABORIGINAL CUSTOMARY LAW Despite the pervasive myth that there is only one legal system in Austral ia , s ince early colonial contact, there has long been judicial recognition of the existence of Aboriginal law. 1 This recognition is significant because it means that the Austral ian legal system has accommodated the operation of a separate legal sys tem. That is, there is more than one complete legal sys tem operating within Austral ia: the Austra l ian legal system and Aboriginal legal systems. This amounts to recognition that Austral ia is a legal plurality. 2 In addition to fundamentally challenging the fiction that Austral ia is not a legal plurality, but a monistic legal society, the judicial recognition of Aboriginal law includes recognition of Aboriginal decis ion-making and Aboriginal law-making power. This is the foundation of the common law inherent right of self-government. Self-government is the legal mechanism by which the Austral ian legal system recognises the existence and operation of Aboriginal legal systems. 1 Although I refer to "Aboriginal law" in the singular, this is only for the ease of argument. I recognise that there are many Aboriginal legal systems and Aboriginal laws in Australia. 21 use the term "legal pluralism" and "legal plurality" to describe more than one legal system and the term "monism" to describe one legal system. 117 The myth that Austral ia is monistic society and that the Austral ian legal system does not recognise Aboriginal customary law as an existing legal system, is a result of both historical and contemporary legal doctrine. T H E G R E A T AUSTRALIAN SILENCE In 1765, Blackstone explained that if land w as unoccupied or uninhabited and d iscovered by Engl ish subjects, then "all the Engl ish laws . . . are immediately there in force". 3 However, if land is cultivated and has been conquered or ceded, the King may alter the laws, but until this happens the ancient laws exist unless they are "against the law of G o d , as in the case of an infidel country". 4 The pivotal concept is that vacant land includes territory possessed by "savage tribes". 5 Aboriginal people were considered incapable of intelligent transactions with l and , 6 s ince they did not cultivate the land nor comprehend the "natural laws of God" . A s a consequence , Britain considered Aboriginal people in Austral ia as "savages". Therefore, neither Aboriginal ownership nor Aboriginal law w as recognised by Bri ta in. 7 3 Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 15 t h ed. vol. 1 (London, A. Strahan, 1809) at 107. Blackstone caveats that "this must be understood with very many and very great restrictions." A Ibid aim. 6 Kenneth Maddock, Anthropology, Law and the Definition of Australian Aboriginal Rights to Land (Amsterdam: Nijmegen, 1980) at 7. 6 Ibid at 7. 7 It is important to recognise that Blackstone's academic writing has never reflected the reality of British colonial practice in North America, see Brian Slattery, Land Rights of Indigenous Canadian Peoples, as Affected by the Crown's Acquisition of their Territories (Saskatoon: Saskatoon Native Law Centre, 1979) (D. Phil, University of Oxford). 118 The justification for the acquisition of Australia is premised upon the misconcept ion that there was only one legal sys tem. A s a result, Austral ia w as classified terra nullius, a land belonging to nobody. Australia w as constructed as a space where no law operated, effectively a legal vacuum. Aboriginal law w as deemed non-existent. A s a result of terra nullius, the doctrine of discovery and the failure to recognise Aboriginal law as law, Engl ish common law entered Austral ia without any impediments and British law was imposed on Aboriginal peoples. A G R A D U A L A W A R E N E S S A s the colonisers quickly came to realise that there were many Aboriginal peoples and that Aboriginal people had laws and owned the land, the presumption of terra nullius was cha l lenged . 8 A t the same time, Aboriginal people were declared British subjects . 9 This purportedly excluded any formal recognition of Aboriginal l a w . 1 0 However , consistent with the coloniser 's realisation of the fictitious foundation of terra nullius, there were various forms of executive, legislative and judicial recognition of Aboriginal law. 8 Henry Reynolds, This Whispering In Our Hearts (St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1998). 9 Australian Law Reform Commission, The Recognition of Aboriginal Customary Laws, Report No. 31 (1986) ("ALRC") in vol 1. at para 23. Two British government reports declared that Aboriginal people were British subjects and subject to British law in all circumstances. In 1837, the Select Committee of the House of Commons Report and Grey's Report, published in 1840. There were also "numerous statutes" which declared Aboriginal people to be British subjects and therefore amendable to British law; see ALRC. 10 Ibid in vol. 1 at para. 58. The ALRC Report stated that, "the customary laws and practices of Indigenous people were denied any formal recognition by the general law'. 119 Governor Macquarie & Governor Davey's Proclamations In June 1816, Governor Macquar ie issued a proclamation in an attempt to "curb internecine Aboriginal conflict in and near Sydney" : 1 1 That the Practice, hitherto observed among the Native Tribes, of assembl ing in large Bodies or Parties armed, and of fighting and attacking each other on the P lea of inflicting Punishments on Transgressors of their own Customs and Manners at or near Sydney, and other principal Towns and Sett lements in the Colony, shall be henceforth wholly abol ished, as a barbarous Custom repugnant to the British Laws, and strongly militating against the Civil ization of the Natives, which is an Object of the highest Importance to effect, if pos s ib l e . 1 2 Governor Macquar ie ' s proclamation was in response to violence authorised by Aboriginal law. Although the term "law" is not used in the proclamation, there is recognition that these instances are in accordance with "custom". Further, this "custom" is inconsistent and "repugnant to" British law. 1 1 Henry Reynolds, Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1996) at 61. 12 Ibid. 120 It is important to consider the terms "custom" and " law". 1 3 The term "custom" may be used in two distinct senses . First, "custom" is often used to distinguish between what constitutes law and what does not. In this sense, custom is merely an accepted way of acting. If such a custom is breached, there is no legal r ecourse . 1 4 The question then becomes when does custom constitute law? There is no simple answer, although essentially, over the passage of time and consistency of application, cus toms may crystallise into l a w . 1 5 Secondly , the term "custom" may be used to refer to unwritten oral traditions that effectively operate in the same manner as law. In Austral ia, Aboriginal law is often referred to as customary law, a reference to the oral nature of the legal sys tem. In this sense , the term "custom" refers to the unwritten nature of the law rather than its status as something lesser than law. This was recognised by Lord Denning in R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs where he stated that: These customary laws are not written down. They are handed down by tradition from one generation to another. Ye t beyond doubt they are well established and have the force of law within the communi ty . 1 6 1 3 See Karsten, P. Between Law and Custom: 'High'and 'Low' Legal Cultures in the Lands of the British Diaspora - The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, 1600 - 1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 1 4 This distinction is most clearly seen in international law, where custom ripens to customary law, but still remains" subservient to treaties. 1 5 Gerald L. Gall, The Canadian Legal System, 4th ed. (Scarborough: Carswell, 1995) at 120. 1 6 [1982] 2 All ER 118 at 123. 121 In C a n a d a , "custom", in this second sense , has also been recognised as law. For example , Just ice Morrow refused to overrule an Inuit customary adoption, respecting its status as " law". 1 7 The use of the term "custom" in Governor Macquar ie ' s proclamation accords with the second sense of custom, that it is merely law that has not been written down. Therefore, the recognition in Governor Macquar ie ' s proclamation that Abor ig inal cus tom governs Aboriginal behaviour is essentially recognition of Aboriginal law. In Tasman ia in 1816, Governor Davey also issued a "Proclamation to the Aborigines", that wa s posted on trees, in an attempt to inform Aboriginal people of Austral ian law and its reciprocal obligations. This proclamation, displayed below, diagrammatically represents the interaction of Aboriginal and British and the indiscriminate treatment of British law to both Aboriginal and British in the event of c r i m e . 1 8 This is to be read from bottom to top, and illustrates that violence between Aboriginal people and colonists will be punished regardless of whether an Aboriginal person or a colonist is the perpetrator. The third panel illustrates a truce and an acceptance by Aboriginal people of British law and the final (top) panel d isplays everyone living in harmony. 1 7 W.H. Morrow (ed.) Northern Justice: The Memoirs of Mr Justice William G. Morrow (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995) at 150- 152. 1 8 The attribution to Governor Davey is incorrect. The Proclamation was issued during the administration of Governor Arthur and is likely to have been designed by George Frankland. 122 Governor Davey ' s "Proclamation to the Aborigines" (1816). 123 This proclamation was effectively a political campaign to inform and convince Aboriginal people of the benefits and justice of being subject to British law. Importantly, the proclamation shows that British law applies to disputes between Aboriginal people and colonists but does not declare that British law applies to intra-Aboriginal disputes. The "Proclamation to the Aborigines" does not operate on the assumption of terra nullius. Rather, it operates on an assumption of pre-existing Aboriginal law and legal plurality. The Prerogative of Mercy In the early colonial period, the Government was responsible for both the initiation and final review of criminal prosecutions. The Attorney Genera l exerc ised the functions of a Grand Jury. Without the Attorney Genera l ' s initiative a person would not be sent for trial. The A L R C suggested that the Attorney Genera l would rarely initiate a trial for intra-Aboriginal disputes. This is also alluded to in R v Ballard.19 Punishment could also be mitigated by the Governor ' s prerogative of mercy. Often, the Governor would either remit or mitigate punishment in recognition of the fact that Aboriginal people neither understood nor felt al legiance to British law. A s a result 19 R v Ballard or Barrett (unreported, Supreme Court of New South Wales, Forbes CJ & Dowling J, 1829) in Dowling, proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 22, Archives Office of New South Wales, 2/3205 at <http://www.law.mq.edu.aU/scnsw/Cases1829-30/html/r v ballard or barrett 1829.htm>. 124 many capital sentences were commuted to transportation and Aboriginal prisoners were sent for religious instruction in preparation for an early re lease . 2 0 The 'guidelines' for applying the prerogative of mercy were informed by the connection between the offence under British law and the offence under Aboriginal law. If an Aboriginal person was found guilty and sentenced to death by the courts, but was not liable for death under Aboriginal law, the Governor would, as a general rule, exercise the prerogative of mercy . 2 1 Consequent ly, only one Aboriginal person, Charley, was executed between 1788 and 1855 who would not otherwise have qualified for death under Aboriginal l a w . 2 2 These few examples indicate that the executive tacitly recognised Aboriginal law in the early stages of colonisation. This contrasts with the Supreme Court of N e w South Wa le s decis ion of R v Murrell23 in 1834, which is often cited as authority for the proposition that the Austral ian legal system never recognised Aboriginal l a w . 2 4 To the contrary, Austral ia was a plural legal society in the early days of the colony and remains a plural legal society today. A trilogy of cases decided by the Supreme Court of New South Wales , including the decis ion in R v Murrell, reveals an active debate about the legality and justice of applying British law to Aboriginal people. This 2 0 ALRC above n 9 vol 1 at para 42. 21 Ibid. Governor Gipps declared to the Executive Council, that this was the test applied. 22 Ibid. 2 3 RvMurre//(1836)1 Legge72. 24 Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996) 141 ALR at 465. 125 debate indicates that undue weight has been given to R v Murrell in its contemporary interpretation. This trilogy constitutes clear judicial recognition of Aboriginal law. T H E E A R L Y NE W SO U T H W A L E S TRILOGY: T H E O T H E R SIDE OF T H E FRONTIER 2 5 In the early 19 t h century, the Supreme Court of N e w South W a l e s 2 6 decided three ca se s that considered the relationship between Aboriginal law and British law: R v Ballard or Barrett (1829) , 2 7 R v Jack Congo Murrell ( 1 8 3 4 ) 2 8 and R v Bonjon (1841) . 2 9 2 5 This is a reference to Henry Reynolds, The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia (Melbourne, Penguin, 1982). Reynolds expressed his methodology in The Other Side of the Frontier as "a major challenge to conventional ideas about Aborigines and therefore to the way in which most Australians view important aspects of their past" at 2. Using this same approach, I revisit these cases and consider the colonial context. By giving equal weight and recognition to two legal systems, I hope to gain an understanding of the colonial mindset and insight into whether the early colonials perceived the colony as a plurality, 2 6 The Supreme Court of New South Wales was the judicial body governing the new British colony. It was the most important court during the colonial frontier in Australia. In 1787, Letters Patent created civil and criminal courts for the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia but a radical overhaul did not occur until 1824. Third Charter of Justice in 1824 established the Supreme Court of New South Wales, with both civil and criminal jurisdiction and granted the Chief Justice precedent over all British subjects, except the Governor or Acting Governor. The Supreme Court of New South Wales, in nearly all respects, has maintained continuity with the Court founded in 1824 under the Third Charter of Justice. 2 7 For a general analysis of these cases, see Bruce Kercher, "Recognition of Indigenous Legal Autonomy in Nineteenth Century New South Wales" 4(13) Indigenous Law Bulletin (1998) 7. 2 8 Above n 23. Although this case was reported, much of the information is from a series of archival material and newspaper articles compiled by the Post-Colonial Institute. As most of the information is not paginated, I will refer to the relevant source where possible. 29 R v Bonjon (unreported, Port Phillip district of the New South Wales, Willis J, 1841) at <http://www.law.mq.edu.au/scnsw/html/r v bonjon 1841 ,htm>. This case is also a compilation of archival material and newspaper reports, with the principal source of the judgment being the Port Phillip Patriot, 20 September 1841. This case is not paginated. 126 Rv Ballard {1829) But I know no principle of municipal or national law, which shall subject the inhabitants of a newly found country, to the operation of the laws of the finders, in matters of dispute, injury, or aggression between themselves30 In 1829, an Aboriginal man, Ballard, was accused of the murder of an Aboriginal man, Borrondi re . 3 1 The issue w as whether the court had jurisdiction. R v Ballard wa s heard by Forbes C J at first instance and by Forbes C J and Dowling J on a p p e a l . 3 2 This case arose because the Attorney Genera l applied to the Chief Just ice for his opinion on whether the Court had jurisdiction in this case . Although the Attorney Gene ra l was inclined to discharge the prisoner, he requested the court's direction. W a s this merely a pragmatic inclination to not prosecute? Or does it reflect a more complex recognition of the existence of Aboriginal law and the inherent injustice of 3 0 Above n 19 at 105-106, per Forbes CJ. Cf: Marshall CJ in Worcester v Georgia (1832) 31 US (6 Pet) 515. 3 1 There is discrepancy in the reporting of the names of the victim and the accused. The Sydney Gazette and the Australian reported that Borrondire, also known as Dirty Dick, was the person killed. The Australian reported the defendant as Ballard but the Gazette called him Barnett. Also, Dowling J, in his notebook, recorded that Dirty Dick was the accused and Ballard the victim. It seems Dowling J incorrectly reversed the names of the victim and the accused. 3 2 It is important to recognise that the procedural nature of these cases is slightly hazy. I refer to the decisions as being at first instance and the final decision (or the decision on appeal) because to the best of my knowledge, this is the case. • However, this may not be precisely correct. For instance, in this case, Forbes CJ heard the case and his first instance decision may just be comments from the bench, which would explain him participating on the appeal. However, given there were few judges, it is likely that the colonial judiciary was much more flexible with these procedural requirements than would be acceptable today. More specifically, there was only a bench of two because Stephen J was ill. This case is reported in a series of newspaper articles. The first, on 21 April 1829 in the Sydney Gazette, reports the Chief Justice's response to the Attorney General's query of jurisdiction. The decision is handed down on 13 June 1829. In addition to the transcript, there are synopsis's reported on 16 June 1829 in the Australian and the Sydney Gazette. 1 2 7 applying (or misapplying) British law in this situation and subjecting Aboriginal people to two legal sys tems in intra-Aboriginal disputes? At a minimum, the Attorney Genera l ' s inclination indicates that he had grave doubts as to whether there was jurisdiction in this case . G iven the severity of the charge of murder, it is reasonable to infer that the Attorney Genera l was of the opinion that British law did not apply to intra-Aboriginal disputes. In the first instance, despite being hesitant to pronounce on such an important matter whilst sitting alone, Forbes C J was confident that there were situations both within and outside of British l a w . 3 3 He was confident that there was at least one situation where British law did not apply and he did not consider the existence of situations outside the scope of British law to be controversial . He operated on the assumption that Aboriginal legal systems existed and governed Aboriginal people without interference in certain situations. He operated on the assumption of legal plurality. In his final written judgment, constituting the decis ion on appeal , Forbes C J stated that: I believe it has been the practice of the Courts of this country, since the Co lony was settled, never to interfere with or enter into the quarrels that have 3 3 Above n 19. In Sydney Gazette, 23 April 1829. Forbes CJ suggested a distinction between a dispute occurring within a tribe, decided by their own customs, and an Aboriginal person, living in town, who was attacked by another Aboriginal person. He suggested that in the second situation, the Aboriginal person had placed himself under the protection of municipal law. Therefore, British law would govern the second situation and not the first. 128 taken place between or amongst the natives themselves . This I look to as matter of history, for I believe no instance is to be found on record in which the acts of conduct of the aborigines amongst themselves have been submitted to the consideration of our Courts of Just ice. It has been the policy of the Judges , & I a ssume of the Government , in like manner with other Colonies , not to enter into or interfere with any cause of dispute or quarrel between the aboriginal na t ives . 3 4 This clearly recognises that, as a matter of practice, British law was not applied to intra-Aboriginal disputes. Did Forbes C J also recognise this to be a matter of law? He held that it would be unjust and unconscionable to hold an Aboriginal person responsible in Engl ish law for an offence committed against one of his 'own t r ibe ' , 3 5 a sentiment echoed by Dowling J . 3 6 Forbes C J made an important distinction, noting that in all interactions between Aboriginal and British settlers, British law did app ly . 3 7 This does not appear to have been controversial. Dowling J also drew the distinction between intra-Aboriginal disputes and Aboriginal and colonists disputes, stating that: ^ /b/dat 100-101. 3 5 /b /d at 99. 36 Ibid at 109. Dowling J held that it would be most unjust and unconscionable to hold the prisoner amenable to the law of England for an offence committed against one of his own tribe. 37 Ibid at 101. 1 2 9 W e have a right to subject them to our laws if they injure us, but I know of no right possessed by us, of interfering where their disputes or acts, are confined to themselves, and affect them o n l y . 3 8 Both Forbes C J and Dowling J referred to instances of Aboriginal conduct that were governed by Aboriginal law and therefore outside the scope of British law. Importantly, they both recognised the existence and binding quality of Aboriginal l a w . 3 9 Forbes C J clearly descr ibed Aboriginal custom, governing Aboriginal people, as law. He held that an Aboriginal person "is governed by the laws of his t r ibe". 4 0 Forbes C J held that Aboriginal people had a mode of redressing wrongs and that: They make laws for themselves, which are preserved inviolate, & are rigidly acted u p o n . 4 1 Forbes C J recognised the limited knowledge of the nature of Aboriginal law but reasoned that, given the experience in other colonies, it was probable that the "institutions of the native . . . will be found to rest upon principles of natural just ice" . 4 2 3 8 /b /d at 108. 3 9 Dowling J's decision is premised on the recognition of Aboriginal law and he recognises their "institutions", presumably a reference to governmental organs. "Until the Aboriginal natives of this Country shall consent, either actually or by implication, to the interposition of our laws in the administration of justice for acts committed by themselves upon themselves, I know of no reason human, or divine, which ought to justify us in interfering with their institutions even if such an interference were practicable". Ibid at 106 - 1 0 7 . 40 Ibid at 102-103. 41 Ibid at 104. 42 Ibid at 101-102. 130 Therefore, Forbes C J was of the "opinion that this man is not amenable to Engl ish law for the act he is supposed to have commit ted" 4 3 and the Court ultimately.held that there was no jurisdiction and discharged B a l l a r d . 4 4 The Australian newspaper commended this decis ion. In discussing the judges ' presumption, it recognised that they: . . . did not go upon the presumption of the native's innocence, but upon the injustice, the inconsistency, the absurdity of subjecting to the laws of civil ized society, a savage, who, it was possible, might in his own estimation, and in the estimation of his countrymen, have been but conforming to some act of duty to his tribe, in imbruing his hands in the blood of his e n e m y . 4 5 It s e ems that public opinion, or at least a section of public opinion, was supportive of the separation of British law and Aboriginal law. Further, the injustice inherent in a situation where a person breaches British law whilst acting in accordance with Aboriginal law is criticized and the judicial recognition of this injustice was applauded. «/b id at 106. 44 Ibid at 99. 45 Ibid. In Australian, 16 June 1829. R v Murrell {1836) 131 In 1836, J ack Congo Murrell and Bummarree were indicted for the murders of two other Aboriginals , Jabbingee and Definger at Windsor on the 2 1 s t December 1835. O n e of the victims was a member of the group that had killed Bummaree ' s brother and Bummarree relied on customary law as a defence. The N e w South W a l e s Sup reme Court recognised it was clearly a case of obedience to the native cus tom of revenge killing. However, only seven years after Ballard, the Full Court reached the opposite conclusion and held that it had jurisdiction in an intra-Aboriginal dispute. Forbes C J heard this case at first instance but Burton J , on behalf of Forbes C J and Dowling J , handed down the final unanimous decis ion. Forbes C J offered contradictory opinions in this case . In the first instance, on 5 February 1836, he responded positively to the defence's plea that there was no jurisdiction, referring to it as "ingenious" and "perfectly jus t ' . 4 6 However , his opinion had been completely transformed by 11 April 1836 when Burton J read the unanimous opinion of the Court, holding that the Court did have jurisdiction. Forbes C J , at first instance, restated his decis ion in R v Ballard and recognised that Aboriginal people are "subject to the custom of their own laws" . 4 7 Initially, Aboriginal 4 5 Above n 23 from Sydney Herald, 8 February 1836. 47 Ibid, from Australian, 9 February 1836. 132 law is accepted as law. But, the Court ultimately rejected that this recognition implied separate sovereignties. Burton J granted that Aboriginal peoples: . . . are entitled to be regarded by Civi l ized nations as a free and independent people, and are entitled to the possess ion of those rights which as such are valuable to them, yet the various tribes had not attained at the first settlement of the Engl ish people amongst them to such a position in point of numbers and civilization, and to such a form of Government and laws, as to be entitled to be recognized as so many sovereign states governed by laws of their o w n . 4 8 Burton J recognised Aboriginal people as "free and independent" but did not recognise that Aboriginal people were governed by law. What is the basis of Burton J 's distinction? Is it legally sound? Burton J was operating on a presumption of Aboriginal inferiority.: Al though it had been stated in evidence that the Blacks were generally considered as beasts of the forest, he, in present of the Almighty G o d declared, that he looked on them as human beings, having souls to be saved, and under the same divine protection as E u r o p e a n s 4 9 48 Ibid, from Supreme Court, Miscellaneous Correspondence relating to Aborigines, State Records of New South Wales, 5/1161 at 211. 49 Ibid, from Sydney Herald, 16 May 1836. Burton J refers to himself as "he" in this quote. 133 Just ice Burton couples his comments with a tone of self-congratulatory goodwill for at least recognizing Aboriginal people as human beings. Just ice Burton expanded on his ethnocentric view in his "Notes for Judgment", where he stated that Aboriginal : . . . practices are only such as are consistent with a state of the grossest darkness & irrational superstition and although in some cases being a show of justice - are founded entirely upon principles particularly in their mode of vindication for personal wrongs upon the wildest most indiscriminatory notions of r evenge . 5 0 A s a result of the denial of separate Aboriginal sovereignty, the Court did not draw a distinction between intra-Aboriginal disputes and disputes between Aboriginal people and colonis t s . 5 1 Therefore, the Court accepted jurisdiction over an intra-Aboriginal dispute. In accepting jurisdiction, Burton J recognised that neither past practice nor general opinion recognised that the Court had jurisdiction in intra-Aboriginal d i spu tes . 5 2 Burton J audaciously and erroneously asserted that this case was "the first of its sort" 5 3 and declared this to be "precedent for future proceedings in like cases" , 5 4 50 Ibid, from Supreme Court, Miscellaneous Correspondence Relating to Aborigines, State Records of New South Wales, 5/1161 at 239. 51 Ibid, from Supreme Court, Miscellaneous Correspondence Relating to Aborigines, State Records of New South Wales, 5/1161 at 214. 52 Ibid, from Sydney Herald, 16 May 1836. " ibid. 134 However, he did make a discreet reference to differing judicial opinions. Although this may be a reference to R v Ballard, it is more likely to be a reference to Forbes C J and in particular, Forbes C J ' s opinion expressed at first instance. Burton J did not address R v Ballard despite it being a contradictory decis ion by the same court seven years previously. Chie f Just ice Forbe's change of opinion is particularly intriguing. Forbes C J had been the subject of a strong attack from the conservative newspaper, the Sydney Herald.55 The Sydney Herald accused Forbes C J of being sympathetic to convicts, a republican and a populist. He was criticized for his constitutional position, as illustrated by a harsh editorial on 28 April 1836, where the Sydney Herald published, "We hope he has taken his departure from these shores forever as the Chief Just ice and Legislator combined in one person". T h e effectiveness of this attack was exacerbated by Forbes C J ' s illness and his imminent departure, which prevented him from responding. Forbes C J had been ill between delivering his initial view in R v Murrell and the final decis ion and had not sat after 29 March 1836 until 11 Apri l 1836, the day the decis ion in R v Murrell was del ivered. O n 12 April 1836, Forbes C J last appeared on the bench and he left the colony on 16 April 1836. «Ibid. 6 5 For example, on 31 March 1836, the Sydney Herald reviewed his career on issues as early as 1827. As Forbes CJ was both ill and preparing to leave the colony, he was unable to respond. 1 3 5 Perhaps these pressures led Forbes C J to comply with Dowling and Burton J J in the unanimous decis ion in R v Murrell? It is certainly surprising, given his strongly stated judgment in R v Ballard and his initial opinion in R v Murrell. With his departure, Dowling J was appointed Act ing Chief J u s t i c e . 5 6 Burton J was "disappointed" and reportedly believed he had an enemy in the colonial office that had thwarted his appointment as Chief Just ice. If Burton J was maneuvering for the Chief Just ice position, perhaps he wished to distance himself from Forbes C J ' s "liberality" and gain favour with both the press and the public. Al though these inferences are speculative, given the nature of colonial frontier law and colonial court's heightened susceptibility to public opinion and politics, these external factors could provide some understanding to the context and reasoning of Forbes C J ' s radical change of opinion. Rv Bonjon (1841) Bonjon, a Wadora man, was charged with shooting and murdering Y a m m o w i n g of the Colijon peop le . 5 7 Unlike Burton J in R v Murrell, Willis J did address previous Supreme Court of N e w South Wa le s decis ions. However, Willis J did not consider himself bound by the decis ion in R v Murrell. He held that the N e w South W a l e s Forbes CJ was only leaving temporarily, however, due to ill health, he retired on 1 July 183.7. Dowling J was eventually made the permanent Chief Justice. The Colijon are now referred to as the Kolakngat. Interestingly, the offence occurred in Geelong. This may have been an important factor, allowing Willis J to distinguish the case from R v Murrell, where the murder'occurred in a very central, public location. 136 Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed by Aboriginal people against one another. This led to a heated rebuke from Dowling C J , supported by Governor G i p p s and the British Government , who declared that the question of jurisdiction had been settled in R v Murrell. Following Forbes C J in R v Ballard, Willis J drew a distinction between intra-Aboriginal disputes and disputes between colonists and Aboriginal p e o p l e . 5 8 He stated that Aboriginal people were subject to British law only in the latter. He went a step further and declared that: . . . there is no express law, that I a m aware of, that makes the Abor ig ines subject to our colonial c o d e . 5 9 After considering the nature of settlement and the misinterpretations by British colonists of the nature of Aboriginal occupation and Aboriginal law, Willis J concluded that: . . . they are by no means devoid of capacity - that they have laws and usages of their own - that treaties should be made with them - and that they have been driven away, from S y d n e y at least, by the settlement of the colonists, 5 8 Above n 29. He gave examples of the first situation; the murder of William Tuck by Merridio and Negaril tried by Burton J in Dec 1838 and executed. Also, Charles Kilmaister (and six other colonists) tried and executed before Burton J in Sydney in Dec 1838 for the murder'of two Aboriginal children and an Aboriginal adult; Charley. » Ibid. 137 but still linger about their native haunts . b 0 In considering the question of jurisdiction, Willis J exhibited humility and questioned" his authority to consider an issue of such enormity. He concluded that it w a s too momentous a question to be so hastily decided: However he did indicate that: From these premises rapidly indeed collected, I a m at present strongly led to infer that the Aborigines must be considered and dealt with, until some further provision be made, as distinct, though dependent tribes governed among themselves by their own rude laws and customs. If this be so, I strongly doubt the propriety of my assuming the exercise of jurisdiction in the case before m e . 6 1 Despite this strong conviction, Will is J accepted jurisdiction and Bonjon was ordered to stand trial. COLONIAL RECOGNITION OF ABORIGINAL LAW A critical examination of these cases reveals a number of important issues. First, the current interpretation of early colonial law differs greatly from how it was considered KJ/b/'d. 61 Ibid. This statement resonates with the language of Marshall CJ in the United States Supreme Court decision in Worcester v Georgia, 31 US (6 Pet) 515 (1832). This raises an interesting question of whether the Supreme Court of New South Wales knew of this decision when deliberating on R v Murrell in 1834, two years after Worcester v Georgia. 138 at the time. Secondly , there was an active debate within the colonial judiciary and also between the judiciary, the British Legislature and the media. Finally, the judiciary did recognise the existence of Aboriginal law. Contemporary Interpretation Flawed The current position that Austral ian law applies to Aboriginal people in all c i rcumstances is largely influenced by the decis ion in R v Murrell.62 Of the three cases , only R v Murrell was formally reported and only R v Murrell has been cited with approval in the 20th century . 6 3 However , all three cases were decided by the Supreme Court of N e w South Wales , considered the s ame question of jurisdiction but had vastly different results. The weight given to R v Murrell is unreasonable. Al l three cases should be examined carefully and with equal weight. The decision in R v Murrell has been consistently misinterpreted. R v Murrell merely rejected absolute sovereignty, a rejection of the exis tence of Aboriginal state sovereignty recognisable in the international Westphal ian system. This is the same type of sovereignty that the High Court rejected in Coe (No. 1) and Coe (No. 2). However, this rejection does not impact on the existence of the c o m m o n law right of self-government. The Court in R v Murrell did not consider questions of modified 6 2 For example, the ALRC did not question the denial of plurality and undertook its inquiry into Aboriginal customary law on the basis of legal monism. « Above n 24 at 181 and R v Wedge [1976] 1 NSWLR 581 at 586. 139 sovereignty or self-government. A n interpretation that suggests that R v Murrell excludes the possibility of continuing modified Aboriginal sovereignty is, with respect, incorrect. In addition to the flawed interpretation of R v Murrell, the contemporary weight and respect attributed to R v Murrell is unreasonable on four grounds: conflicting authority, questionable precedential value, inadequate treatment of the law of nations and ethnocentricity. First, R v Murrell did not address the previous related jurisprudence in R v Ballard, which extensively considered the same question of jurisdiction. Under the doctrine of stare decisis, the decis ion of a higher court within the same jurisdiction acts as a binding authority on a lower court within that s a m e jurisdiction. Stare decisis literally translates as "to stand by decided matters" and requires a judge to follow particular previous dec i s ions . 6 4 In this case , the question is whether the N e w South W a l e s Sup reme Court was bound by its own previous decis ions. General ly , courts are bound by their previous decis ions unless those decis ions were decided per incuriam. A decis ion made per incuriam is a decis ion made "through the want of care". This is a decis ion a subsequent court finds to have been mistaken, and therefore not binding. Burton J did not refer to Rv Ballard and it is unlikely that this is sufficient to render the decis ion in R v Ballard per incuriam. More importantly, given that Burton J did not consider a previous, binding, contradictory decis ion, arguably, the omiss ion ^Aboven 15 at 343. 140 to consider this relevant authority is sufficient to render the dec is ion in R v Murrell per incuriam and therefore not binding. Secondly , the debate continued after R v Murrell, as can be seen in R v Bonjon, indicating that its role as precedent was questioned at the time. Interestingly, on the day after Willis J 's judgment was delivered, the Court in Melbourne heard a ca se involving two Aboriginal people charged with murder for the traditional spearing of another Aboriginal person in accordance with Aboriginal law. After the C r o w n prosecutor in Melbourne had examined R v Bonjon, the Crown decl ined to proceed. The prisoner was remanded to the next sess ion and discharged the following month. Therefore, despite R v Murrell, the decis ion in R v Bonjon questioning jurisdiction w a s interpreted, at least by the Crown prosecutor, to be binding. Judicial challenge to the decision in R v Murrell, to accept jurisdiction in an intra-Aboriginal dispute, continued after R v Bonjon. In 1841, the same year as R v Bonjon, Just ice C o o p e r of the South Austral ian Supreme Court stated that it was : . . . impossible to try according to the forms of Engl ish law, people of a wild and savage tribe whose country although within the limits of the province of South Austral ia, has not been occupied by Settlers, who have never submitted themselves to our dominion and between whom and the Colonis ts 141 there has been no social in tercourse . 6 5 In 1846, Coope r J remained unwilling to concede that Aboriginal people should be tried for offences under British law and argued that he required legislative direction for an intra-Aboriginal dispute to be justiciable. He discharged the accused because there was no competent interpreter ava i lab le . 6 6 Thirdly, Burton J in R v Murrell does not adequately consider or query the nature of the acquisition of sovereignty under the doctrine of discovery. This is an issue that flows through these early decis ions. Although I do not consider this in detail, suffice it to say, Burton J 's treatment of the law of nations, Vattel and the doctrine of discovery is inadequate, especial ly when considered in compar ison with the other two cases in the t r i logy. 6 7 Finally, Burton J 's reasoning relies on the ethnocentric premise of Aboriginal inferiority. If this is the premise underlying the decis ion that has been interpreted as denying legal pluralism in Austral ia, should this decis ion continue to be recognised in contemporary t imes? Does it hold up to contemporary standards or should this reasoning be recognised as erroneous and rejected as the High Court rejected the 6 5 ALRC above n 9 in vol. 2 at para 45. 6 6 Finally, in 1848, Cooper J accepted jurisdiction for an intra-Aboriginal dispute. However, before the trial started, he stated that in the event of a conviction, he would stay any execution required by law and refer the case to the Governor. 6 7 For further information, see Reynolds above n 11. 1 4 2 Federa l Court decis ion of Milirrpum v Nabalco68 in its landmark decis ion in Mabo (No. 2 J ? 6 9 Burton J 's reasoning does not conform to current jur i sprudence , 7 0 anthropological theory 7 1 or contemporary standards. E v e n if this was acceptable at the time, which is debatable, this reasoning is not acceptable today. This decis ion should be re-examined as the High Court re-examined the decis ion of Milirrpum v Nabalco. Therefore, a contemporary interpretation of R v Murrell as binding or final authority for the proposition that Austral ian law does not recognise Aboriginal law or Abor ig inal sovereignty overstates the significance of this decis ion. In addition to failing to consider either the historical context or the judicial recognition of Aboriginal law in contemporary times, this interpretation conflates the decis ion to exclude the possibility of recognising continuing modified Aboriginal sovereignty and Aboriginal self-government. This overstatement of R v Murrell perpetuates harmful legal and socia l myths and is simply incorrect. Milirrpum v Nabalco (1971) 17 FLR 141. Mabo v Queensland (No. 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1. 7 0 Lord Denning in R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [1982] 2 All ER 118 at 123 where he states that, "These customary laws are not written down. They are handed down by tradition from one generation to another. Yet beyond doubt they are well established and have the force of law within the community." See also Viscount Haldane in Amodu Tijani v Secretary, Southern Nigeria [1921 ] 2 A.C. 399 discussed in Chapter 2 and Hall J in Calder v British Columbia [1973] SCR 313; 34 DLR (3rd) 145 where he repudiates the lower court for being barbaric and uncivilised. 7 1 See Norbert Rouland, Legal Anthropology, trans, by Philippe Planel (London: Athlone Press, 1994). 143 The Debate There was an active dialogue in the early colonial period questioning the effect of acquisit ion on Aboriginal law. This dialogue continued and judges, governors and legislatures debated the question of legal pluralism for many decades . A s mentioned above, C o o p e r J continued questioning the acceptance of jurisdiction and on at least one occas ion , C r o w n Counse l chose not to prosecute. In Western Austral ia , Governor Hutt who held office from 1839 - 1846, rejected the British Government ' s position that Aboriginal people were subject to British law for offences committed against each other . 7 2 The diverging opinions held within the judiciary are evident from the three conflicting dec is ions made by the same court over a period of twelve years. The strongly worded judgment of Burton J in R v Murrell is in direct contrast with the decis ion by Forbes C J in R v Ballard and Willis J in R v Bonjon. Not only were differing opinions expressed by different judges, but differing opinions were expressed by Chief Just ice Forbes . Forbes C J ' s decis ions at first instance and on appeal in R v Ballard and at first instance in R v Murrell are in stark contrast to his participation in the conflicting unanimous judgment of R v Murrell. It is clear from these decis ions that 7 2 ALRC above n 9 in vol. 1 at para 45. Governor Hutt was in office from 1839- 1846. During Governor Hutt's term, any acts "by natives against natives" in accordance with their own law, were ignored; Hasluck, Black Australians (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1942). In contrast, Governor Fitzgerald, Governor Hurt's successor, complied with the British position contained in Grey's report and adopted a policy that resulted in the imposition of severe penalties. 1 4 4 there was a broad divergence of opinion within the colonial judiciary regarding the application of British law to intra-Aboriginal disputes. It is over-simplistic to rely on R v Murrell as R v Murrell does not reflect this debate nor the general opinion within the judiciary at the time. The diverging opinions between the judiciary and the British Government is symptomatic of numerous declarations of the British Government that stress that Aboriginal people were British subjects and subject to British law, declarations that the judiciary interpreted to exclude the application of British law from intra-Aboriginal disputes. It was only in R v Murrell, in which Burton J himself recognised that his interpretation of the legislation was "in strict terms," 7 3 that it was held that the British and colonial legislation governed Aboriginal peoples in all circumstances. However, even after this decision expressing unanimity between the judiciary and the Government, judges, in particular Justice Cooper, continued to question the application of these declarations to intra-Aboriginal disputes. There was also a divergence in opinion between the judiciary and the press, to which Burton J referred to in his judgment in R v Murrell. However, at other times, the newspapers applauded the Court for its decision, thereby distancing itself from the Government's positions. For example, R v Murrell was met with "surprise" 7 4 and 7 3 Above n 23 from Sydney Herald, 16 May 1836. 74 Ibid, from Sydney Herald, 5 May 1836. 145 one correspondent to the Sydney Herald urged future cons idera t ion . 7 5 A further example is the high praise the Australian gave to the decis ion in R v Ballard. Recognition of Aboriginal Law The debate focused on the quest ion of whether the Court 's jurisdiction should be recognised in intra-Aboriginal disputes. It was a question of whether British law negated Aboriginal law in all c i rcumstances . The crucial principle that arises from this dialogue is not whether the position of the judiciary prevailed over the legislature, or whether Burton J 's opinion ultimately prevailed over the judgments of Forbes C J , but rather that, despite the various positions taken in this controversy, there was consistent recognition that Aboriginal people were governed by Aboriginal law. This was evident in R v Ballard, R v Murrell at first instance and R v Bonjon. E v e n Burton J , in R v Murrell, recognised Aboriginal custom and that Aboriginal people are governed by their own sys tem of rules. Although he denied its status as law, under a particularly narrow, ethnocentric definition grounded in law of nation's understandings of law, state and sovereignty, Burton J's recognition of cus tom amounts to contemporary understandings of law. Applying Lord Denning's test in R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Burton J's concept of "custom" in R v Murrell is merely that it is unwritten law. 75 Ibid. Future consideration was urged in order to prevent a "legal murder". 146 In any event, the fact that Burton J recognised Aboriginal people were governed by rules, even if he did not recognise that these rules were law, is a striking example of the depth of understanding the colonial judiciary had of Aboriginal peoples. The colonial judiciary did not consider Aboriginal people as without law. There is recognition of Aboriginal law in this trilogy and in Governors ' proclamations, discretions, legislation and other judicial decis ions . This recognition continued beyond the early 19th century. Towards the end of the 19th century, it s e ems that the judicial revolution and flexibility ceased . Opposit ion, such as that voiced by Justices ' Willis and Cooper , was slowly overwhelmed by judgments recognising jurisdiction in intra-Aboriginal disputes. In addition, the pastoral frontier had begun to advance rapidly into the interior and as it did, "the clever words of newspaper editors and the ethical d i lemmas of evangelists became increasingly irrelevant". 7 6 Settlers, beyond the range of the police, were often unconcerned about Aboriginal rights and began to view Aboriginal people as t respassers. At this time, frontier violence escalated and a number of infamous massacres occu r r ed . 7 7 7 6 Robert Foster, Rick Hosking & Amanda Nettelbeck, Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory (Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2001) at 5. 7 7 This is not to say that there was no frontier violence before this time. For example, Pemulwuy has been touted as the first guerilla fighter, who fought from 1790 to 1802 when he was shot. From 1822-1824 the Wiradjuri resisted colonisation along the Murray River. In Tasmania, the Black War was fought from 1827 - 1830. In Western Australia, Yagan led the Noongar resistance from 1831 - 1833. In 1834, the Pinjarra massacre occurred. However, in the 1840's, the commonality and the extent of the violence increased. For example, the Maria Massacre in South Australia and the Rufus River conflict. For more details on these massacres, frontier violence and Aboriginal resistance, see ibid. See also, Henry Reynolds, The Other Side of the Frontier (Ringwood: Penguin, 1982); Meredith Hooper, Doctor Hunger & Captain Thirst (North Ryde: Methuen, 1982); Bill Peach, The Explorers (Sydney: ABC Enterprises, 1984). 147 There was relatively little explicit legal development during this period. Aboriginal people were considered beyond or external to the l a w . 7 8 There w a s little or no protection offered by a predominantly permissive legal culture. There is a rich body of material referring to the atrocities that took place and the moral ambivalence of the protectionist and assimilationist social policies, most starkly illustrated by the Aboriginal Act 1905 (Cth), an act that created Protectors and authorised the removal of Aboriginal children. However, there was also a variety in the approaches taken by States, some apparently more progressive. All of the approaches taken by the different states are set out in a variety of reports, the most pertinent of which is the Bringing Them Home Report.79 Despite this bleak history, there were instances of recognition of Aboriginal law, particularly in the 1920's and 1930's. For example, in 1936, an ad-hoc court was established by the Native Administration Act 1905-1936 (WA) with jurisdiction for offences by Aboriginal people against Aboriginal people. Sec t ion 63(2) of this Act al lowed for customary laws to be taken into account in mitigation of punishment. There were also attempts at Aboriginal courts and Aboriginal police in Q u e e n s l a n d . 8 0 Further, the legislature began to make provisions for the recognition of Aboriginal 7 8 ALRC above n 9 in vol. 1 at para 48, where there is reference to the 1920's and 1930's as a phase of non-recognition. 7 9 Australia, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (Sydney: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997). 8 0 ALRC above n 9 in vol. 1 at para 49. See also para. 49 - 58 for details of administrative and legislative responses to rectify the non-recognition of Aboriginal law. 148 l aw . 8 1 A s a result, a variety of criminal reforms providing the discretion to recognise Aboriginal law as a mitigating circumstance in sentencing were implemented. It was not until the 1967 referendum that the Federal Government had the responsibility and the power to make laws with respect to Aboriginal people and Aboriginal people were counted in the national census . Arguably , it was only at this time that Aboriginal people were brought within Austral ian law and that before 1967, Aboriginal people were outside Austral ian law. Cons idered in this way, the referendum indicates further and extensive recognition of the existence of Aboriginal law throughout the colonial frontier. 8 2 T H E CO N T E M P O R A R Y SITUATION In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency by the courts to recognise and enforce Aboriginal law. Aboriginal law has been recognised in substantive criminal law, as relevant to the exercise of discretion in sentencing, in assess ing damages for loss of amenities, and for the purpose of adoption l a w s . 8 3 A recent study in Western Australia summar ises the approach of Austral ian courts to 8 1 ALRC above n 9 in vol. 2 in Pt 6 from para 678. 8 2 The status of Aboriginal peoples regarding the law is still ambiguous. Since the 1967 referendum and the consequential amendment to s 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution, there has been continual debate as to whether this constitutional provision to make laws with respect to Aboriginal people may be used for beneficial purposes. See Koowarta v Bjelke-Peterson (1982) 153 CLR 168 and in particular the judgment of Gaudron J. 83 Ibidai 58. See Napalumav Baker (1982) 29 SASR 192 followed in Dixon v Davies (1982) 17 NTR 31 for damages. 149 Aboriginal law in the areas of criminal law, civil law and family l a w . 8 4 In criminal law, Aboriginal law has been considered in diverse areas, including bail, procedure, sentencing and defences such as consent, duress , provocation and honest c la im of right. In civil law, Aboriginal law has been recognised in coronial and burial matters and also in family law for marriages and the placement of children. More comprehensively, the continuing vitality of Aboriginal law was recognised by the High Court decision in Mabo (No. 2).85 This watershed decis ion recognised Aboriginal law as a source of indigenous rights to land. Native title has its origins in and is given its content by the traditional cus toms observed by the Indigenous inhabitants of a territory. The nature and incidents of native title must be ascertained as a matter of fact by reference to those laws and cus toms . 8 6 8 4 Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, Approach of Australian Courts to Aboriginal Customary Law, Background Paper No. 1 (December 2003). This paper attempts to exhaustively summarise decisions that consider Aboriginal law. This is the first background paper of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia's current project on Aboriginal customary law. The terms of reference are much broader than the ALRC (although limited to Western Australia) but do require that the ALRC report is considered. Since there are many more programmes in place and people are far more receptive to the idea of reconciliation and community based justice mechanisms, the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia sees itself as building on from the work of the ALRC, although not being as restricted in their scope. As Heather Kay replied, when asked about the progress of the current reference: I think predominantly the issues we have come into contact with concern the need for communities to feel ' empowered, and often customary law is what communities focus on to give them this sense of empowerment. per Heather Kay, Executive Officer of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, email, 6 April 2004. 8 5 Rob McLaughlin 'Some Problems and Issues in the Recognition of Indigenous Customary Law' 3(82) Aboriginal Law Bulletin (1996) 4; Noel Pearson, 'Reconciliation to be or Not to be: Separate Aboriginal Nationhood or Aboriginal Self-Determination and Self-Government within the Australian Nation' 3(61) Aboriginal Law Bulletin (1993) 14. 8 6 Above n 69 at 58 per Brennan J.-150 T h e recognition that Aboriginal law influences the content of native title acknowledges an existing body of Aboriginal law. Brennan J also recognised that Aboriginal law is dynamic. He held that native title is not a bundle of specific rights frozen at the assertion of British sovereignty, but has continued to develop over the last two centur ies . 8 7 Therefore, there is legal recognition of Aboriginal law as a dynamic body of law in both historical and contemporary times. What are the implications of this recognition? ADMINISTRATIVE FLEXIBILITY OR L E G A L PLURALITY? T w o inferences may be drawn from these instances of recognition. First, that there w a s an era of "administrative flexibility", as suggested by the Austral ian L a w Reform C o m m i s s i o n ( "ALRC") or secondly, that Austral ia was (and is) a plural legal society. T w o reports, the A L R C ' s , Recognition of Customary Law, which although published in 1986 is still considered a relevant and important work and the Report of the Roya l C o m m i s s i o n on Aboriginal Peoples ( " R C A P " ) 8 8 published in C a n a d a in 1996, must be considered. Both of these reports were major contributions to the documentat ion 87 Ibid at 41 per Brennan J. See also Kent McNeil, Emerging Justice: Essays on Indigenous Rights in Canada and Australia (Saskatoon: Houghton Boston Printers, 2001) at 416 - 465; Jeremy Webber, "Native Title as Self-Government" (1999) 22:2 University of New South Wales Law Journal 600 at 602. 8 8 Canada, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Restructuring the Relationship, vol 2:2 (Ottawa: Canada Commuication Group, 1996) ("Restructuring the Relationship"); Canada, Partners in Confederation: Aboriginal Peoples, Self-Government and the Constitution (Ottawa: Canada Communication Group, 1993) ("Partners in Confederation"). 151 of the history of colonial contact and the effect of colonial ism on both indigenous peoples and indigenous law. T h e A L R C report considered the recognition of Aboriginal law by Austral ian courts. This report has serious limitations. The A L R C considered whether it would be desirable to apply Aboriginal customary law to Aboriginal people. The report focused on the recognition of Aboriginal law by the courts in criminal law, family law and for the purposes of hunting, fishing and gathering rights. The A L R C concluded that although Aboriginal law has been recognised in some cases , this recognition has been "exceptional, uncoordinated and incomplete ." 8 9 They concluded that recognition did not amount to a legal obligation but was merely a matter of administrative flexibility. A s a result, the A L R C considered that the scope for recognition through the common law was "very limited" and determined that Australia is not required, although not prohibited, from recognizing Aboriginal l a w . 9 0 Although, according to the A L R C , Austral ia is not required to recognise Aboriginal law, the A L R C recommended that Aboriginal law should be recognised in appropriate w a y s . 9 1 "Appropriate ways" were limited to opportunities of recognition within the existing judicial and administrative structures. A s a result, the A L R C 8 9 Above n 9 vol. 1 at para 62 - 63, 68, 70 - 75, 76 - 84 and 85. For a summary, see above n 3 vol. 2 at para 1005. 9 0 Above n 9 vol. 1 at para 171-8. 9 1 to/of at para 194. 1 5 2 recommended avoiding the creation of new and separate legal s tructures. 9 2 Essentially, the A L R C ' s recommendat ions were to maintain the current monistic legal s t ructure 9 3 where the general law is not excluded and Aboriginal laws are not directly en fo rced . 9 4 While this report contains valuable factual information, it is nonetheless flawed in its conception, analysis, conclusion and recommendations. Conceptually, it is limited by its terms of reference to consider only how to "apply" Aboriginal laws. This does not allow for any shift in the current power imbalance between Austral ian and Aboriginal legal systems. A s a result, the analysis did not consider Aboriginal law as an equal legal system, a failure inconsistent with contemporary social and legal thought and international l a w . 9 5 The A L R C ' s analysis did not adequately address the injustice of the historical and contemporary si lencing of Aboriginal law. The A L R C did not consider international law and self-determination as rights relevant and applicable in Austral ia . Further, the A L R C failed to consider the common law inherent right of Aboriginal self-government. There was no genuine consideration of any legally enforceable rights. Instead, the A L R C report showed concern for public opinion and pandered to fears of legal pluralism, ultimately deferring to Parliament to make a political decis ion. 92 Ibid at para 196. " /b/rJat para 199-207. 94 Ibid at para 200 -203, 208. 9 5 Above n 71. See also Lord Denning in R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [1982] 2 All ER118 at 123. See also the discussion of self-determination in Chapter 1. 153 Not surprisingly, the A L R C did not make any recommendat ions beyond the current s cope and structure of the Austra l ian legal sys tem. These recommendat ions were limited in this manner as a result of the A L R C conclusion that Austral ia is not required to recognise Aboriginal law, a conclusion inconsistent with both the c o m m o n law and international law. T h e A L R C ' s reliance on "administrative flexibility" failed to consider properly the active debate or the consistent recognition of Aboriginal law that has occurred both historically and in contemporary times. The A L R C ' s interpretation that these were merely acts of administrative flexibility was an interpretation grounded entirely within the ideology of legal monism. However, this debate and the recognition of Aboriginal law constitute a serious judicial challenge and are more than merely administrative flexibility. Not only was this debate part of a dialogue between the colony and Britain, questioning the British interpretation of the doctrine of discovery and the justice of applying British law to intra-Aboriginal disputes, this dialogue involved consistent recognition of another legal system. Australia was, and still is, a plural legal society. The A L R C report had inherent limitations that resulted in its incapacity to consider the possibility of recognising Austral ia as a plural legal society. This is inconsistent with international d iscourse on self-determination and the common law inherent right of Aboriginal self-government. The more recent report by R C A P considered similar 154 i ssues in the context of C a n a d a . R C A P operated on a fundamentally different premise from the A L R C and was not limited to "applying" indigenous law within the paradigm of legal monism. The terms of reference were ambitious and reflected "the depth of the chal lenge this country has yet to meet" . 9 7 R C A P considered four interdependent areas: the reality of societal and cultural difference, the right of self-government/ the nature of aboriginal nationhood and the requirement for adequate land, resources and self-reliant economies 9 8 Al though this inquiry was much broader than the A L R C ' s , it did consider the interaction between aboriginal law and Canad ian law. Further, R C A P comprehensively considered the c o m m o n law right of self-government and determined that this was an inherent right arising from aboriginal peoples ' original status as independent and sovereign na t ions . 9 9 A s Rene Dussault stated at the launch of R C A P ' s Final Report: Our view on this issue is clear. The inherent right of Aboriginal peoples to govern themselves is firmly anchored in history and, we believe, in l a w . 1 0 0 R C A P concluded that the right of self-determination is the fundamental starting point 9 6 RCAP: Restructuring the Relationship above n 88 at 186. 9 7 Georges Erasmus, speaking with Rene Dussault, "Address for the Launch of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples" at <http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ch/rcap/spch_e.html>. 98 ibid. 9 9 RCAP: Restructuring the Relationship above n 88 at 193. RCAP concluded that the inherent right of Aboriginal self-government is recognized and affirmed in section 35(1) of the Constitution Act 1982 above n 88 at 213. 1 0 0 Rene Dussault, speaking with Georges Erasmus, "Address for the Launch of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples" at <http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ch/rcap/spch_e.html>. 155 for Aboriginal governance. Further, R C A P determined that aboriginal peoples also possess an inherent right of self-government within C a n a d a as a matter of Canad i an common law and C a n a d i a n constitutional law. Although C a n a d a has a different political and constitutional structure than Austral ia , the shared colonial common law heritage is the nexus that makes this report not only relevant, but a lso crucial , to understanding the c o m m o n law position in Austra l ia . T h e s e two reports have vastly different perceptions of the relationship between indigenous law and Austra l ian and C a n a d i a n law respectively. The A L R C report considered the question of how to "apply" Aboriginal law and determined that recognition of Aboriginal law amounts only to instances of administrative flexibility. The A L R C report was a self-fulfilling prophecy. In contrast, R C A P considered short and long term solutions to historical and contemporary injustice and determined that the only way forward was to recognise the existence of indigenous legal systems through the inherent right of self-government and the right to self-determination. R C A P recommended the recognition of legal pluralism. There is a choice in the contemporary juridical system. However, one must question the continuing adoption of an out-dated report, which ignores contemporary domest ic and international legal obligations and human rights standards, as the pre-eminent statement on the recognition of the existence of Aboriginal law. The position of "administrative flexibility" taken by the A L R C must be rejected. O n c e this occurs , 156 R C A P ' s useful and informative document, especial ly its consideration of the recognition of self-government and its articulation of the relationship between recognition of Aboriginal law and the inherent right of self-government, should be adopted. ABORIGINAL LA W AND S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T The recognition of Aboriginal law by Austral ian courts demonstrates that a limited degree of self-government or law-making powers remained with Aboriginal people after the assertion of sovereignty and after the drafting of the Commonwealth Constitution in 1901. This relationship is best explained by briefly considering C a n a d i a n jurisprudence. S ince 1867, Canad ian courts have recognised and enforced laws made by Abor ig inal societies. These cases primarily concern customary marriage, beginning with Connelly v Woolrich (1867).w More recent cases include Wewayakum Indian Band v Canada™2 and McLeod Lake Indian Band v Chingee.103 The relationship between the recognition of Aboriginal law and c o m m o n law self-government is clearly articulated in Justice Wil l iamson 's judgment in Campbell v British 1 0 1 (1867) 11 L.C.J 197. 1 0 2 [1991] 3 FC 420 at 430. 1 0 3 These cases primarily concern customary marriage, beginning with Connolly v Woolrich (1867) 11 LCJ 197. More recent cases include Wewayakum Indian Band v Canada [1991] 3 FC 420 at 430 and McLeod Lake Indian Band v Chingee (1998) 165 DLR (4<h) 358. See Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333 at 358 - 360 for other authorities. 157 Columbia.104 Justice Wil l iamson accepted that Aboriginal people had legal sys tems prior to contact and that these legal systems, although modified, continued after contact. The recognition of customary law by Canad i an courts demonstrates: . . . not only that at least a limited right of self-government, or a limited degree of legislative power, remained with Aboriginal peoples after the assertion of 1 sovereignty and after Confederation, but also that such rules, whether they result from custom, tradition, agreement, or some other decis ion making process, are "laws" in the Dicey constitutional s e n s e . 1 0 5 Therefore, in Canada , the right to make laws survived the assertion of sovereignty and Confederation. In Austral ia , the right to make laws also survived the assert ion of sovereignty. This can be seen in the recognition of Aboriginal law by the courts, legislature and the executive. Despite R v Murrell, instances of Aboriginal customary law and the existence of Aboriginal law-making power are recognised as occurring within the nation-state. This one aspect of Aboriginal sovereignty, the right to make laws, is recognised as existing in Austral ia . Therefore, Aboriginal law-making power exists harmoniously with Crown sovereignty. 104 Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333. 1°5/b/d at 355. 158 The continuing recognition of Aboriginal law, enforceable in the courts, is recognition of political structures that do not derive their authority from constitutional division of legislative p o w e r . 1 0 6 The recognition of political structures and the right to make laws, which bind the Aboriginal community, is the means by which a right of self-government is imp lemen ted . 1 0 7 CONCLUSION The early colonial period was effectively a time of legal pluralism. Despite the classification of Aboriginal people as British subjects, in practice, the application of British law to Aboriginal people was conditional. The early practice was to apply Engl ish law to offences committed by Aboriginal people against colonists and visa versa . However, where an Aboriginal person committed an offence against another Aboriginal person, the applicability of British law was. questioned and Aboriginal law w a s recognised. The contemporary interpretation of R v Murrell as authority for the proposition that the Australian legal sys tem has never recognised Aboriginal law both misinterprets and grossly overstates this decision. It also fails to recognise two other important decis ions in R v Ballard'and R v Bonjon. A consideration of these three ca se s 1 0 6 In Canada, this was in the Constitution Act 1867. In Australia, the Commonwealth Constitution. • 107 Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 DLR (4th) 333 (Written argument of the Nisga'aTribal Council). , • • 159 reveals an active debate within and between the judiciary, government and press, which indicated that Aboriginal law was recognised. This recognition continued into contemporary times, including the period leading up to Coe (No. 1) and Coe (No. 2), where the assertion of absolute sovereignty was rejected. However, as mentioned in Chapter 2, these cases did not consider the continuing existence of modified Aboriginal sovereignty. Rather, the colonial common law doctrine of self-government, as articulated by Chief Justice Marshall in Worcester v Georgia, forms part of Australian common law. Modified sovereignty and the inherent right of self-government are consistent with the continuing recognition of the existence of Aboriginal law. The recognition of Aboriginal law is more than mere "administrative flexibility" and amounts to recognition of legal plurality. With the recognition of legal plurality and Aboriginal customary law, it is recognised that Aboriginal people have law-making power and the right to make laws. This is the foundation of the common law inherent right of self-government. 160 Chapter Six C O N C L U S I O N Discussion on Aboriginal sovereignty in Australia is almost forbidden.1 The failure to recognise and give effect to Aboriginal rights, including Aboriginal self-government, has contributed to a significant power imbalance between Aboriginal people and the wider Austral ian society. This imbalance is manifest in a lack of education, employment and healthcare options for Aboriginal people and in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. Whi le it is true that Austral ians have embraced some aspects of Aboriginal culture - especial ly in art and sport - governments and the courts cling stubbornly to colonial attitudes when it comes to matters of justice and civil and political rights. Aboriginal self-government is a common law right. In order to maintain the conceptual integrity of the Australian legal system, after years of misapplication, the c o m m o n law must be correctly appl ied . 2 The continuing failure to recognise self-government contributes to the current power imbalance and reinforces the colonial mindset that remains prevalent in Australia today. It is time to address the flawed 1 Michael Mansell, "The Bicentenary and Aboriginal Sovereignty" (1988) Law Institute Journal 1206 at 1207. 2 For a discussion of how the recognition of native title involved the correct application of the common after years of misapplication, see Garth Nettheim, Gary Meyers & Donna Craig, Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures: A Comparative Analysis of Land and Resource Management Rights (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2002) at 238. 161 interpretation of the common law and the injustices this interpretation perpetuates. As Germaine Greer writes: There is only one way to escape from an impasse, and that is to turn back to the point where you went wrong, sit down on the ground and have a think about it.3 It is time to stop. The dominant argument used to deny the existence of self-government cannot be maintained. An argument that self-government is incompatible with the Australian state fails to comprehend the distinction between absolute and modified sovereignty. Although Australian courts have rejected absolute sovereignty, there has never been any judicial consideration of the existence of modified Aboriginal sovereignty or the inherent right of self-government. By returning to the pivotal periods in colonial history, it becomes apparent that the inherent right of self-government existed as part of the colonial common law imported into Australia. This is most clearly stated in Chief Justice Marshall's leading judgment in Worcester v Georgia.4 Although self-government was not explicitly recognised in Australia, the colonial judiciary did consistently recognise the existence of Aboriginal law. Despite British declarations to the contrary, internal Aboriginal disputes were considered to be beyond the reach of British law and 3 Germaine Greer, Whitefella Jump Up: The Shortest Way to Nationhood (Melbourne: Black Inc, 2003) at 2. "(1832)31 US (6 Pet) 515. 162 governed solely by Aboriginal law. The recognition of Aboriginal law continues today. This is the foundation of the inherent right of self-government. In order for the inherent right of self-government to become a reality, there must be fundamental changes to both the Austral ian legal system and the perception of the Austral ian legal system. The Austral ian legal system is not fragile. It is a dynamic body of law. Fears that recognition of modified Aboriginal sovereignty and Aboriginal self-government will fracture Australia 's legal skeleton are unfounded and fanciful. Despi te "the sky is falling" critics, native title has not brought the legal sys tem to its knees . However , the conservative interpretation of this common law right and the continuing denial of modified Aboriginal sovereignty and self-government are slowly but surely undermining both the legal and political systems and Aboriginal peoples ' c la ims to justice. Sovereignty is not the S-word . 5 In a free and democrat ic society, political d iscuss ion on an issue fundamental to Austral ia 's nationhood must not be s i lenced. The continuing maintenance of the position that sovereignty and self-government are issues beyond the scope of Austral ian law perpetuates historical colonial injustice and amounts to a contemporary denial of fundamental human rights. 6 Larissa Behrendt, "Slicing the Circle: Treaty, Native Title, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Compartmentalizing of Indigenous Rights in Australia" (Paper presented to the Indigenous Bar Association Conference in Ottawa, 2000) [unpublished] at 4. 163 T h e c o m m o n law right of Aboriginal self-government must be recognised. This is not only a matter of morality and justice; it is a matter of law. 164 BIBLIOGRAPHY JURISPRUDENCE Australia Coe v Commonwealth (1979) 24 A L R 118. Coe v Commonwealth (1993) 118 A L R 193. Cooper v Stuart (1889) 14 A p p C a s 286. Dixon v Davies (1982) 17 N T R 31. Hayes v Northern Territory [1999] F C A 1248 (Unreported, 9 September 1999). Hayes v Northern Territory [2000] F C A 671 (Unreported, 23 M a y 2000). Koowarta v Bjelke-Peterson (1982) 153 C L R 168. Mabo v Queensland (1988) 166 C L R 186. Mabo v Queensland (1992) 175 C L R 1. Members of the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal Community v State of Victoria (2002) 194 A L R 538. Milirrpum v Nabalco (1971) 17 F L R 141. Napaluma v Baker (1982) 29 S A S R 192. New South Wales v Commonwealth (1975) 135 C L R 377. R v Ballard or Barrett (unreported, Supreme Court of N e w South Wales , Forbes C J & Dowling J , 1829) in Dowling, proceedings of the Supreme Court, V o l . 22, Arch ives Office of N e w South Wales , 2/3205 at <http: / /www.law.mq.edu.au/scnsw/Cases1829-30/html/r v ballard or barrett 1829.htm>. R v Bonjon (unreported, Port Phillip district of the N e w South Wales , Willis. J , 1841) at <http://www.law.mq.edu.au/scnsw/html/r v bonjon 1841.htm>. 165 R v Murrell (1836) 1 Legge 72. R v Wedge [1976] 1 N S W L R 581. R v Walker [1989] 2 Q d . R 79 at 80. Rubibi Community v Western Australia [2001 ] 112 F C R 409. Wacando v Commonwealth (1981) 148 C L R 1. Walker v New South Wales (1994) 182 C L R 45. Ward v Western Australia (1998) 159 A L R 483. Western Australia v Ward (2000) 170 A L R 159. Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996) 141 A L R 129. Williams v Spautz (1992) 174 C L R 509. Canada Calder v British Columbia (Attorney General) [1973] S C R 313. Campbell v British Columbia (Attorney General) (2000) 189 D L R (4th) 333. Connolly v Woolrich (1867) 11 L C J 197. Delgamuukw v British Columbia (1993) 104 D L R (4 t h ) 470. Delgamuukw v British Columbia [1997] 3 S C R 1010. McLeod Lake Indian Band v Chingee (1998) 165 D L R (4 t h ) 358. Minister of National Revenue v Grand Chief Michael Mitchell aiso known as Kanentakeron [2001] 1 S C R 911. Province of Ontario v Dominion of Canada (1895) 23 S C R 434. R v Pamajewon [1996] 2 S C R 821 . R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Indian Association of Alberta [1982] 2 A l l E R 118. 166 R v Sparrow [1990] 1 S C R 1075. R v Van der Peet [1996] 2 S C R 507. St Catherine's Milling & Lumber Co. v The Queen (1887) 13 S C R 577. St Catherine's Milling & Lumber Co. v The Queen (1888) 14 A p p C a s 46. Wewayakum Indian Band v Canada [1991] 3 F C 420; 2 C N L R 177. International Western Sahara (Advisory Opinion) [1975] ICJ R e p 12. New Zealand R v Symonds (1847) N Z P C C 387. United Kingdom Amodu Tijani v Secretary, Southern Nigeria [1921] 2 A C 399. Post Office v Estuary Radio Ltd. (1968) 2 Q B 740. Re Southern Rhodesia [1919] A C 211. United States Cherokee Nation v Georgia (1831) 30 U S (5 Pet) 1. Johnson v Mcintosh (1823) 21 U S (8 Wheat) 543 Worcester v Georgia (1832) 31 U S (6 Pet) 515. LEGISLATION AND TREATIES Australia 167 Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 (Cth). Commonwealth of Australian Constitution Act 1900 (Cth). Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). High Court Rules 1952 (Cth). Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth). Letters Patent of 1787. Letters Patent of 1878. Native Administration Act 1905-1936 (WA). Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth). Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). Third Charter of Justice 1824. Canada Constitution Act 1867. Constitution Act 1982. Indian Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. I-5. Nisga'a Treaty. Royal Proclamation of 1763. International International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 168 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States, 26 December 1933. i United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. SECONDARY MATERIALS Books A s c h , Michae l , (ed.) Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equity, and Respect for Difference (Vancouver: U B C Press , 1997) 155. Bartlett, Richard . Native Title in Australia (Sydney: Butterworths, 2000). Berndt, Ronald M . & Catherine H . The World of the First Australians: Aboriginal Traditional Life: Past and Present, 5th ed. (Aboriginal Studies P ress : Canber ra , 1999). Blackstone, Sir Wil l iam. Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1 5 t h ed . (London: A . Strahan, 1809). Darwin, Char les . On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: D. Apple ton , 1860). Dworkin, Rona ld . Law's Empire (Cambridge: Balknap Press , 1986). Fletcher, Christine. Aboriginal Politics: Intergovernmental Relations (Carlton: Melbourne University Press , 1992). Fletcher, Christine, (ed.). Aboriginal Self-Determination in Australia (Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press , 1994). Foster, Robert. Hosking, Rick & Nettelbeck, A m a n d a . Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory (Kent T o w n : Wakef ie ld P res s , 2001). Gal l , Gera ld L. The Canadian Legal System, 4th ed. (Scarborough: Carswel l , 1995). 169 Greer , Germaine . Whitefella Jump Up: The Shortest Way to Nationhood (Melbourne: Black Inc, 2003). Hart, H . L . A . The Concept of Law (Oxford: Cla rendon Press , 1994). Hasluck, Pau l . Black Australians (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press , 1942). Hinsley, F . H . Sovereignty, 2 n d ed . (Cambridge: Cambr idge University Press , 1986). Hollingsworth, David. Race and Racism in Australia (Katoomba: Soc ia l S c i e n c e s Press , 1998). Hooper , Meredith. Doctor Hunger & Captain Thirst (North R y d e : Methuen, 1982). Kaffman, Pau l . Wik, Mining and Aborigines (Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards , 1998). Karsten, P . Between Law and Custom: 'High' and 'Low' Legal Cultures in the Lands of the British Diaspora - The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, 1600- 1900 (Cambridge: Cambr idge University Press , 2002). Maddock , Kenneth . Anthropology, Law and the Definition of Australian Aboriginal Rights to Land (Amsterdam: Nijmegen, 1980). M c N e i l , Kent. Common Law Aboriginal Title (Oxford: Clarendon Press , 1989). M c N e i l , Kent. Emerging Justice: Essays on Indigenous Rights in Canada and Australia (Saskatoon: Houghton Boston Printers, 2001). M c R a e , Heather. Nettheim, Garth & Beacroft, Laura . Aboriginal Legal Issues (Sydney: L a w Book Company , 1991). Morrow, W . H . (ed.) Northern Justice: The Memoirs of Mr Justice William G. Morrow (Toronto: University of Toronto Press , 1995). Neidjie, Bil l , Davis , Stephen, Fox Al lan . Kakadu Man. Bill Neidjie (Sydney: Mybrood , 1985). Neidjie, Bil l . Story about Feeling (Broome: Magaba la Books , 1989). Nettheim, Garth, Meyers , Gary & Cra ig , Donna . Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures: A Comparative Analysis of Land and Resource Management Rights (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press , 2002). P e a c h , Bil l . The Explorers (Sydney: A B C Enterprises, 1984). 170 Reynolds , Henry. The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia (Ringwood: Penguin, 1982). Reynolds , Henry. Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation (Sydney: Al len & Unwin, 1996). Reynolds , Henry. This Whispering In Our Hearts (St. Leonards: Al len & Unwin, 1998). Rouland , Norbert. Legal Anthropology, trans, by Phil ippe Planel (London: Athlone Press , 1994). de Saint-Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince, trans, by Katherine W o o d s (New York : Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943). Sh inoda , Hideaki . Re-Examining Sovereignty (London: MacMi l l an Press , 2000). Slattery, Br ian . Land Rights of Indigenous Canadian Peoples, as Affected by the Crown's Acquisition of their Territories (Saskatoon: Saska toon Native L a w Centre, 1979). Smith , J . E . John Marshall: Definer of a Nation (New York: Henry Holt, 1996). Stankiewicz , W . J . In Defense of Sovereignty (London: Oxford University Press , 1969). Tonkinson , Robert. The Mardudjara Aborigines: Living the Dream in Australia's Desert (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978). de Vattel, Emmer ich . The Law of Nations of the Principles of Natural Law: Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns (vol. 3, 1758 ed) book 1. Yunupingu , Galarrwuy. Our Land is Our Life: Land Rights - Past, Present and Future (St Luc ia : University of Queens land Press , 1997). Journal Articles Berman , Howard . "The Concept of Aboriginal Rights in the Early Legal History of the United States" (1978) 27 Buffalo Law Review 637. Borrows, John . "Constitutional L a w From a First Nation Perspect ive: Self-Government and the Royal Proclamation" (1984) 28 University of British Co lumbia Law Rev iew 1. 171 Gray , S tephen . "Planting the Flag or Burying the Hatchet: Sovereignty and the High Court Dec is ion in Mabo v Queensland" (1993) 2 Griffith L a w Rev iew 39. Grose , Peter. "The Indigenous Sovereignty Quest ion and the Austral ian Response" (1996) 3:1 Austral ian Journal of Human Rights 40. Imai, Sh in . "Treaty Lands and Crown Obligations: The "Tracts Taken Up" Provision" (2001) 27 Queen ' s Law Journal 1. Jenkins , Christopher, D. "John Marshall 's Aboriginal Rights Theory and its Treatment in C a n a d i a n Jurisprudence" (2001) 35 University of British Columbia L a w Rev iew 1. Kelly, Loretta. "Reconcil iat ion and the Implications for a Sovere ign Aboriginal Nation" (1993) 3(61) Aboriginal Law Bulletin 10. Kercher, Bruce . "Recognit ion of Indigenous Legal Autonomy in Nineteenth Century N e w South Wales" 4(13) Indigenous L a w Bulletin (1998) 7. Mack lem, Patrick. "Normative Dimens ions of an Aboriginal Right of Self-Government" (1995) 21 Queen's Law Journal 173. Manse l l , Michae l . "The Bicentenary and Aboriginal Sovereignty" (1988) L a w Institute Journal 1206. McLaughl in , Rob . "Some Problems and Issues in the Recognit ion of Indigenous Cus tomary Law" 3(82) Aboriginal L a w Bulletin (1996) 4. M c N e i l , Kent . "Self-Government and the Inalienability of Aboriginal Title" (2002) 47 M c G i l l L J 473 . Merry, S . E . "Resistance and the Cultural Power of Law" (1995) 29 Law and Society Rev . 11. Nettheim, Gar th . "Sovereignty and Aboriginal Peoples" (1991) 2:53 Aboriginal L a w Bulletin 4. Otta, Dianne. "A Quest ion of L a w or Poli t ics? Indigenous C la ims to Sovereignty in Austral ia" [1995] 21 Syracuse J . Int'l L . & C o m . 65. Pearson , Noe l . "Reconciliation to be or Not to be: Separate Aboriginal Nat ionhood or Aboriginal Self-Determination and Self-Government within the Austral ian Nation" (1993) 3:61 Aboriginal Law Bulletin 14. 172 Preso , T . J . " A Return to Uncertainty in Indian Affairs: The Framers, the Supreme Court, and the Indian C o m m e r c e Clause" (1994) 19 A m . Ind. L. Rev . 443 . Ritter, David . "The Rejection of Terra Nullius in Mabo: A Critical Analys is" (1996) 18 Sydney L R e v 5. Slattery, Brian. "Understanding Aboriginal Rights" (1987) 66 C a n Bar R e v 727. Strelein, L i sa . "The Vagar ies of Native Title: Partial Recognit ion of Aboriginal L a w in the Al ice Spr ings Native Title C a s e : Hayes v Northern Territory" 4(26) Indigenous Law Bulletin (2000) 13. Walters, Mark. "The "Golden Thread" of Continuity: Aboriginal Cus toms at C o m m o n Law and Under the Constitution Ac t 1982" (1999) 44 McGi l l L . J . 711. Webber , Jeremy. "Native Title as Self-Government" 22(2) University of New South Wales Law Journal (1999) 600. Government Sources Austral ian L a w Reform C o m m i s s i o n , The Recognition of Aboriginal Customary Laws, Report No. 31 (1986). Austral ia , Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (Canberra , A G P S , 1991).. Austral ia , Senate Standing Commit tee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs: Two Hundred Years Later... Report on the Feasibility of a compact or 'Makaratta' between the Commonwealth and Aboriginal People. Parliamentary Pape r No. 107/1983. (Canberra : Austral ian Government Publ ishing Services , 1983). Canada, ."Aboriginal Self-Government: The Government of Canada ' s A p p r o a c h to the implementation of the Inherent Right of the Negotiation of Aboriginal Self-Government" (1995). C a n a d a . Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Partners in Confederation: Aboriginal Peoples, Self-Government and the Constitution (Ottawa: C a n a d a Communica t ions Group, 1993). C a n a d a , Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (Ottawa, C a n a d a Communica t ion Group, 1996). L a w Reform C o m m i s s i o n of Western Austral ia, Approach of Australian Courts to Aboriginal Customary Law, Background Paper No. 1 (December 2003). 173 Report of the C o m m i s s i o n on Globa l Governance , Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press , 1995). Unpublished Papers, Movies and Speeches Behrendt, Lar issa . "Slicing the Circle : Treaty, Native Title, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Compartmental iz ing of Indigenous Rights in Austral ia" (Paper presented to the Indigenous Bar Assoc ia t ion Conference in Ottawa, 2000) [unpublished]. Clark, Geoff. "Launch of A T S I C Treaty Documents" (paper presented at Parl iament House in Melbourne, 8 M a y 2001) [unpublished] at 12. Dodson , Mick. "Native Title on the Precipice: The Implications of the High Court 's Judgment on the Ward C a s e " (Paper presented at the A N U Institute for Indigenous Austral ia , Canber ra , 17 October 2002) at <ni.anu.edu.au/docs/dodson.pdf>. Graham, Trevor. (Director), Land Bilong Islanders (Yarra Bank Fi lms, 1990). Manse l l , Michae l . "They C a n K e e p Their Justice - We' l l K e e p Our Country: the A P G View" (paper presented to the Aboriginal Justice Issues conference in Cairns , June 1992) [unpublished]. Strelein, L i sa . "Aboriginal Land Rights in Austral ia" (Native Title Resea rch Unit at Austral ian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1999) [unpublished] at <http://www.firstpeoples.org/land_rights/australia/land_rights_in_ australia.htm>. 

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