Australian Critical Decisions: Remembering Koowarta and Tasmanian Dams, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Australian Critical Decisions

Remembering Koowarta and Tasmanian Dams, 1st Edition

Edited by Ann Genovese


294 pages

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Paperback: 9780367077068
pub: 2018-10-18
Hardback: 9781138692053
pub: 2016-12-12
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315533094
pub: 2018-02-02
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The 1980s was a time of significant social, political and cultural change. In Australia, the law was pivotal to these changes. The two High Court cases that this book explores – Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen (1982) and the Tasmanian Dams case (1983) – are famous legally as they marked a decisive reckoning by the Court with both international law and federal constitutionalism. Yet these cases also offer a significant marker of Australia in the 1980s: a shift to a different form of political engagement, nationally and internationally, on complex questions about race and the environment. This book brings these cases together for the first time. It does so to explore not only the legal legacy and relationship between Koowarta and Tasmanian Dams, but also to reflect on how Australians experience their law in time and place, and why those experiences might require more than the usual legal records. The authors include significant figures in Australian public life, some of whom were key participants in the cases, as well as established and respected scholars of law, history, environment and Indigenous studies. This collection offers a combination of personal recollections of the cases, as well as a consideration of their ongoing significance in Australian life.

This book was originally published as two special issues of the Griffith Law Review.

Table of Contents


Ann Genovese

1. Koowarta: AWarrior for Justice A Brief History of Queensland’s Racially Discriminatory Legislation and the Aboriginal Litigants Who Fought It

Marcia Langton

2. Internal and external affairs: the Koowarta case in context

Hilary Charlesworth

3. Justice in whose eyes? Why lawyers should read black Australian literature

Nicole Watson

4. Recovering the foundations of Koowarta: the struggle of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission to purchase land in Queensland

Alexander Reilly

5. Koowarta: constitutional landmark, transition point or missed opportunity?

Sean Brennan and Megan Davis

6. Practising law and politics in 1980s’ Australia: the liberating effect of Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen

Maureen Tehan

7. Koowarta and the rival Indigenous international: our place as Indigenous peoples in the international

Mark McMillan

8. Koowarta: a vital turning point for Aboriginal rights and Australia Summing up the symposium

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

9. Reflections on legal issues in the Tasmanian Dams Case

The Hon Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE GBM

10. The Tasmanian Dam Case: an advocate’s memoir

The Hon Michael Black AC QC

11. Limitlessness in Australian Constitutional Legal Narrative: The memory of Black’s Address in the Tasmanian Dam Case

Rebecca LaForgia

12. Experiences of coming to law: An Interview with Bob Brown on the Tasmanian wilderness society as client in the Tasmanian Dam Case

Martin Clark

13. Nineteen eighty three: A jurisographic report on Commonwealth v Tasmania

Ann Genovese and Shaun McVeigh

14. Tasmanian Dams and Australia’s Relationship with International Law

Madelaine Chiam

15. Making sense of indigeneity, aboriginality and identity: race as a Constitutional conundrum since 1983

Mark McMillan and Martin Clark

16. Law and the practices of ‘damming’: Tasmanian Dams Case as a turning point

Lee Godden

About the Editor

Ann Genovese is a professor and an historian of modern Australian jurisprudence. Her projects aim to bring to life stories of how Australians have practiced and experienced their law since 1950. She works at Melbourne Law School. Recent publications include Sovereignty: Frontiers of Possibility (2013) and Rights and Redemption: History, Law, Indigenous People (2008).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Civil Rights
LAW / Constitutional
LAW / Environmental
LAW / International
LAW / Land Use
LAW / Natural Resources
LAW / Public
LAW / Discrimination
LAW / Agricultural
LAW / Government / General
LAW / Indigenous Peoples