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23 James Cook U. L. Rev. 1 (2017)

handle is hein.journals/jamcook23 and id is 1 raw text is: 

The High  Court handed down  its decision in Aabo v Queensland [No 2] (1992) 175
CLR  1 ('MAabo') on 3 June 1992, a decision that changed forever how native title is
seen in Australia.

Eddie Koiki Mabo,  the first-named plaintiff, was born on the island of Mer (Murray
Island) in the Torres Strait on 29 June 1936 and moved to Townsville in 1959. He
worked  in a number of occupations before being employed eight years later, at the age
of 31, as a gardener at the Townsville campus of James Cook University. It was there
that he met historians Henry Reynolds and Noel Loos - and that was where it all began.
The genesis of what was to become the 'abo   decision' was a conversation that he,
Henry  and  Noel had  over lunch in Henry's  office in 1974. It was during that
conversation that he first became aware that the land on Mer which he regarded as his
own  was, in law, then regarded as Crown Land.

In 1981 Koiki spoke at a land rights conference that the students had organised at JCU,
explaining the customary land inheritance system that operated on Mer. An attendee,
barrister Barbara Hocking, suggested that that system could form the basis for a test
case on Native Title. Another attendee, Perth-based solicitor Greg McIntyre, agreed to
take the case on and he, in turn, brought two other barristers, Ron Casten and Bryan
Keon-Cohen,  on board.

On 20 May  1982 Eddie Koiki Mabo  (together with fellow Mer Islanders, the Reverend
Dave Passi, Sam Passi, Celuia Mapo Salee and James Rice), commenced their action
in the High Court.

Unfortunately Koiki did not live to see the outcome of the case, dying of cancer on 21
January 1992, a little under five months before the High Court decision was handed
down. His role will, however, live on in both Indigenous and legal history in the name
of the case.

At James  Cook University his role (and his association with the University) is also
commemorated   in the name of its Townsville library, which was formally named the
'Eddie Koiki Mabo Library' in his honour in 2008.

To further commemorate  both the man and the 25' anniversary of the decision that
bears his name, this edition of the James Cook University Law  Review  has been
dedicated to the theme 'abo - 25 Years On'. Included are a number of invited papers from
key participants in the original case (Henry Reynolds and Bryan Keon-Cohen), current key
participants in the area (Raelene Webb QC and Nyunggai Warren  Mundine) and the
Conmonwealth  Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis. All other papers in this special 25th
anniversary edition are also devoted to articles specifically focussed on that general theme.
We  hope that Koiki would have seen this as a fitting tribute.

Emeritus Professor Stephen Graw
20th December 2017

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