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
1. Koowarta: AWarrior for Justice A Brief History of Queensland’s Racially Discriminatory Legislation and the Aboriginal Litigants Who Fought It
2. Internal and external affairs: the Koowarta case in context
3. Justice in whose eyes? Why lawyers should read black Australian literature
4. Recovering the foundations of Koowarta: the struggle of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission to purchase land in Queensland
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
7. Koowarta and the rival Indigenous international: our place as Indigenous peoples in the international
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
12. Experiences of coming to law: An Interview with Bob Brown on the Tasmanian wilderness society as client in the Tasmanian Dam Case
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
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
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).