Mick Dodson talks about the Native title Act.
27 June 2002
Making Multicultural Australia
Head of the Indigenous Law Centre, University of New South Wales, and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Obviously the thing of greatest importance in recent years has been the High Court decision on Native Title. I think what happened in the debate that led up to the formulation of the Bill was the enormous educating role that debate played.
But the Native Title Act doesn't give land justice to all Indigenous Australians. The reality is that the law is never going to remove the enormous sense of injustice and grievance that Indigenous people feel about our land being forcibly taken from us. And until there is some accommodation of that you can forget reconciliation, any meaningful reconciliation.
CONTINUATION OF INTERVIEW AS TEXT
I'm not suggesting that land justice means the return of all the land. Some of the land has to be returned to give us an economic foundation, particularly in the heavily populated areas of the country where all the best land is. We've lost all that. But there can be other ways of meeting the accommodation of our land grievance. And where it can't be done, compensation has to be paid. We've been arbitrarily deprived of our property. Despite what the white man's law says, that's what happened. They came here and forcibly removed it from us. They stole it from us, regardless of what their law says, that's in fact what happened. Now that question is the paramount question. It has to be dealt with.
As long as people from other parts of the world come here and become new Australians, and as long as they perpetuate the injustice and the dispossession of Indigenous Australians, they're going to be equally responsible. There is no forgiveness in saying, "well I didn't steal it, I'm just the receiver". There's an obligation to deal with the injustice wherever it occurs and whoever perpetrates it. The non-accommodation is going to perpetuate injustice and the deep sense of grievance that we feel.
Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1996.