Mabo vs State of Queensland

2018 marks the 26th anniversary since the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in the land rights case ‘Mabo versus the State of Queensland’.

Announced on 3 June 1992, generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people celebrate Mabo Day following a 10-year struggle for recognition.

In the lead up Justice Martin Moynihan and a team of Counsel travelled to Mer Island to conduct Supreme Court sittings and to take down testimony from witnesses to prove or disprove the Murray Islander Mabo case of native title in May 1989.

The delegation of Court Officials arrives on Mer Island. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island ,1989. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 29122-0001-0016

The delegation of Court Officials arrives on Mer Island. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island ,1989. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 29122-0001-0016

Patricia White, Manager for Aborigines Welfare Fund Unit was the government official charged with the responsibility and logistics on Mer (Murray) Island.  She and James Freeman photographed the delegation and their time on Mer Island.  State Library of Queensland was granted permission to digitise a selection of the photographs from the album which can be viewed via our One Search catalogue.

The hearing was conducted in the Mer Council Hall.

Court in session with Justice Martin Moynihan presiding. The women of Mer decorated the tables and an ABC film crew were also present. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island, 1989. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 29122-0001-0027

Court in session with Justice Martin Moynihan presiding. The women of Mer decorated the tables and an ABC film crew were also present. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island, 1989. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 29122-0001-0027

Barrister Margaret White and Barrister Bryan Keon-Cohen standing. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island 1989. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 29122-0001-0030

Barrister Margaret White and Barrister Bryan Keon-Cohen standing. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island 1989. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 29122-0001-0030

Eddie Mabo (middle) and traditional owners lead a site visit on Mer Island. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island, 1989. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. (In copyright). Image 29122-0001-0014

Eddie Mabo (middle) and traditional owners lead a site visit on Mer Island. Collection 29122 Album of Photographs relating to the Mabo Case on Mer Island, 1989. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. (In copyright). Image 29122-0001-0014

The Hon. Margaret White AO acted as junior counsel for the Queensland Government for the ten years of litigation. In 2016 she presented in the 2016 Selden Society lecture series – Leading Cases of the Common Law –  Mabo V State of Queensland (No 2), published by the Supreme Court Library Queensland.

Links:

Anne Scheu – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland