Paul Keating Turns 70

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating turns 70 today.

Keating was 25 when he entered the House of Representatives as the Labor member for Blaxland in October 1969. He was 47 when he became Australia’s 24th prime minister in December 1991. He remained PM until March 1996 when he was defeated by John Howard’s coalition.

Keating

Keating’s first ministerial appointment came in the dying days of the Whitlam government. Following the sacking of Minerals and Energy minister Rex Connor, Keating became Minister for Northern Australia on October 21, 1975, serving for three weeks until the government was dismissed by the Governor-General on November 11. He is the youngest of the eleven surviving ministers of the Whitlam governments. [Read more…]


Mabo Madness From 1993

With the 20th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision approaching on June 3, it’s timely to remember the atmosphere of the times.

This is a Jeff Hook cartoon and an editorial from the Sunday Herald-Sun on June 6, 1993.


Mabo Anniversary Amid Reconciliation Controversy

The eighth anniversary of the High Court’s judgement in the Mabo case occurs this Saturday and is the culmination of National Reconciliation Week activities throughout Australia.

FlagThe Mabo judgement overthrew the legal notion of “terra nullius”, the concept that the Australian continent was an empty land belonging to no-one which was acquired by the British in the eighteenth century.

The court ruled that a form of native title exists in the Australian common law that reflects the entitlement of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, in accordance with their laws and customs, to their traditional lands.

The court also ruled that native title is extinguished by valid government acts that are inconsistent with the continued existence of native title rights and interests, such as the grant of freehold or leasehold estates.

The case led to the passage of the Native Title Act in 1993 and the establishment of the Native Title Tribunal to rule on Aboriginal land claims.

The act was amended in 1998 after a fierce debate following the High Court’s 1996 Wik judgement. This decision followed confusion over the competing claims of Aborigines and pastoral leaseholders. The court held that native title and pastoral leasehold rights could co-exist, but that leasehold rights prevail in the event of conflict.

The debate over native title has occurred in the context of ongoing discussion about the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children, particularly since the release of the report of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing Them Home.

Recent years have seen a growing social movement devoted to the issuing of a formal national apology to the Stolen Generations. There have also been calls for a formal treaty with the Aboriginal people.


Governor-General Sir William Deane’s Address To Corroboree 2000

This is the text of the address to Corroboree 2000 by the Governor-General, Sir William Deane.

Governor-General Sir William Deane’s Address to Corroboree 2000.

DeaneAt the outset, I acknowledge the traditional custodians and thank them for the welcome they have given us all to their ancestral lands.

All of us who are pilgrims on the road to Aboriginal reconciliation have reached a crossroads. This is a time to pause and look back to the past, around at the present, and forward to the future. [Read more…]