'This book debunks in spectacular fashion some of the most treasured, over-inflated claims of the benefits of native title.'
Professor Mick Dodson, ANU Centre for Indigenous Studies
'David Ritter's fascinating account of the evolution of the native title system is elegant and incisive, scholarly and sceptical; above all, unfailingly intelligent.'
Professor Robert Manne, La Trobe University
'An unsentimental, richly informed account of a fascinating period in the history of Australia's relationships with its indigenous people.'
From the Foreword by Chief Justice Robert French
After the historic Mabo judgement in 1992, Aboriginal communities had high hopes of obtaining land rights around Australia. What followed is a dramatic story of hard-fought contests over land, resources, money and power, yielding many frustrations and mixed outcomes.
Based on extensive research, enriched by intimate experience as a lawyer and negotiator, David Ritter offers both an insider's perspective and a cool-headed and broad-ranging account of the native title system. In lucid prose Ritter examines the contributions of the players that contested and adjudicated native title: Aboriginal leaders and their communities, multinational resource companies, pastoralists, courts and tribunals, politicians and bureaucrats. His account lays bare the conflicts, compromises and conceits beneath the surface of the native title process.
Table of Contents
1 Reading the porridge: Introducing the native title system
2 The dilemmas of the black leadership: ATSIC, the native title working groups and their successors
3 Like unacknowledged bastards: The native title representative bodies
4 State expectations: Executive government of the states and territories
5 Mining rules and the sheep's back: Non-government third party respondents
6 Poets and slaves: The National Native Title Tribunal
7 You can take the judge out of the court... The Federal Court of Australia
8 The end of uncertainty: The native title system in retrospect
David Ritter teaches at the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Australia. He is currently working in a senior campaigns position with Greenpeace in London.