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High Court special leave application – Gumatj claim

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

Today the Commonwealth filed a special leave application in the High Court in relation to a decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court in a native title compensation claim brought by the Gumatj clan in the Northern Territory (Yunupingu on behalf of the Gumatj Clan or Estate Group v Commonwealth of Australia [2023] FCAFC 75).

I recognise the significant contribution that Yunupingu has made to First Nations land rights in Australia. Initiating this landmark case was one of many actions he took to build a better future for his people.

This case raises important legal issues including very significant constitutional issues that go beyond the native title context.

The application of these constitutional issues in the context of native title compensation is new and the Federal Court decision on 22 May 2023 represents the first time these issues have been judicially determined in that context.

In my view it is appropriate that these critical issues be settled by the High Court so that parties to this and future matters have clarity and certainty about the law in this area.