John Howard responds to the High Court’s decision on the native title of the Wik and Thayorre peoples in Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996) 141 ALR 129. News footage shows a summit held by Aboriginal Land Councils. Wik elder Jean George calls for justice. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
In this clip we hear many powerful Indigenous voices declare the validity of a law that has existed for millennia. The testimony of the representatives declares that Indigenous law still exists as it always has.
After Mabo gives an overview to the native title legislation, focusing on the amendments made to the Native Title Act 1993 by the Howard Government as part of its 10-point plan.
In the Mabo case of 1992, the High Court recognised that original inhabitants had identifiable land rights before European settlement. The film’s title borrows from Tim Rowse’s After Mabo: Interpreting Indigenous Traditions (1993), and gives an overview of the negotiations that took place between Indigenous representative groups and the Howard Government. Filmed during 1996–97, After Mabo uses historical footage to build the narrative, then depicts the responses of Indigenous people to the government’s 10-point plan, which saw the Howard Government amending the Native Title Act 1993 introduced by the Labor Government that had preceded it.
After Mabo does not offer an in-depth explanation of native title nor the 10-point plan, thus making its target audience those who are already familiar with these concepts. It is still highly informative. After Mabo shows how groups such as the National Farmers’ Federation responded to native title, and describes their belief that native title would abolish land tenure held by non-Aboriginal Australians. After Mabo presents land as the physical, symbolic and metaphorical representation of the very different perspectives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures.
After Mabo is an exciting documentary with strong momentum, and much of the dialogue and rhetoric is still relevant, providing a context for the debates around Indigenous rights and land tenure. The most respected Indigenous commentators on native title are featured, giving After Mabo added historical importance.
Notes by Romaine Moreton
The clip shows the Howard government’s response to the Wik decision of 23 December 1996 and Indigenous responses to the government’s signals that there would be further amendments to the Native Title Act 1993. It shows part of the Aboriginal Land Councils’ Wik Summit in 1997. Wik Elder Jean George calls for justice and another Wik Elder Denny Bowenda holds up a law stick as he explains Indigenous lore. Northern Land Council Chairman Galarrwuy Yunupingu asserts continuing Indigenous law. Background music and Indigenous people singing are included.
Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia
Transcript of Intertitle
Intertitle 1:If the High Court of Australia brings down a decision which is different from what had been the previous understanding of the law naturally I will accept that decision.