Minister for Indigenous Australians
The Hon Linda Burney MP
The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians
Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy
Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart
Senator Patrick Dodson
Joint media release
Today we celebrate the legacy of Eddie Koiki Mabo, whose tireless work overturned the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ – the presumption that Australia belonged to no-one prior to 1788.
The High Court’s decision in the Mabo case was handed down on this day in 1992.
It recognised for the first time that the connection between First Nations people and the land pre-dates colonisation and continues to this day.
It also paved the way for the Native Title Act 1993.
Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney:
Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said that Eddie Mabo’s decade-long battle for rights led to one of the most important acts of recognition in Australia’s legal history.
“Today we honour Eddie Koiki Mabo, whose work led to the legal acknowledgement of a historical fact – that Indigenous Australians’ connection to land existed for thousands of years prior to 1788 and was not extinguished by colonisation.”
“To truly honour Eddie Mabo’s memory, we must continue our commitment to closing the gap in education, healthcare, life expectancy and justice.”
“Recognition through Voice will be a crucial next step in delivering practical change that improves the lives of First Nations Australians.”
“I believe Australians are ready to update our constitution in a way that will celebrate our history and the ongoing relationship of Indigenous Australians with this land, and drive change that will build a better future for all of us.”
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus:
“The hopes and dreams that Eddie Koiki Mabo’s victory unleashed will not be fulfilled until we have completely closed the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
“And we will not have completed Eddie Koiki Mabo’s fight until we have fully embraced the generous offer of the Uluru Statement from the Heart for a true partnership to pursue meaningful reconciliation as a nation.”
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians:
“On Mabo Day, I take this opportunity to thank native title holders who do their best for kin and country. With recent events in Central Australia, I particularly thank the Lhere Artepe rangers for helping to bring peace and stability to Alice Springs.”
“The Mabo case shows how far we have come together as a nation in so many ways, and provides hope to continue this journey for a better future ahead for our young people.”
Senator Patrick Dodson, Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart:
“It’s a great tragedy that Eddie Mabo never lived to know the outcome of his High Court action. But First Nations people will forever remember and honour his legacy.”