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Australia Territory ContinentIntroduction 11 Australia has always been regarded as terra nullius under International Law Terra nullius is a territory belonging to no state that is territory not inhabited by a community with a social and political organisation In International Law effective occupation is the traditional mode of extending sovereignty over terra nulliua1 In 1788 on the advent of discovery the British became legal occupiers of Australia Coincidence with the British Crowns acquisition of Sovereignty was the importation of all British laws into Australia Although Australia was inhabited by Aborigines before European settlement their presence was ignored by the British because they were regarded as barbaric primitive and individuals rather than communities Therefore if ever they had any native title to land this was not recognised by the British 12 The first attempt made by Aborigines seeking legal recognition of native title to land was a failure in the case of Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd2 However in the case of Mabo Others v The State of Queensland No23 native title was legally recognised and protected under the Australian common law Part of the Commonwealth Government response to the Mabo decision came in the Native Title Act 1993 In order to understand the effect of these two on Australian land law it is first necessary to grasp an appreciation for their contents Then an examination of the effects so far and the future upon Australian land law as a result Background to Mabo Case 21 In 1982 Eddie Mabo and four others issued a writ in the Brisbane Supreme Court to counter-act the Queensland Land Act 1962 wherein Bjelke-Petersens government created proposals to vest title to reserves in Councils by means of Deeds of Grant in Trust4 22 The plaintiffs wanted recognition of Murray Island ownership deriving from Meriam law and not Queensland law Furthermore they did not approve of having their interest vested in the Council as trustee due to the fact
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