Fact sheet

Fact Check: Pauline Hanson says a lot of people have been dispossessed of their lands due to the Mabo decision. Is she correct?

One Nation Native Title

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson has argued that the rights granted to Indigenous people in the High Court's 1992 native title decision, colloquially known as the Mabo decision, would be further entrenched by constitutional recognition, and that if Australia became a republic in the future, this could lead to unintended consequences. She claimed a lot of people had been dispossessed of their lands due to the Mabo decision. But Senator Hanson's claim is baseless. Experts consulted by RMIT ABC Fact Check could not identify any native title decisions in Australia which have dispossessed a freehold land title holder of their land. The High Court's Mabo decision in 1992 did not give Indigenous people the right to reclaim traditional lands from just anyone. Private property held under freehold title, such as your house and backyard, has already had any native title extinguished under Australian law. Native title claims can only be made on Crown land, though this land may be covered by a pastoral lease or other interests that are deemed by law to prevail over native title. But even in the case of pastoral leases, the High Court's 1996 Wik decision found that the rights of pastoralists and native title holders can co-exist, and that when they are in conflict, the rights of the leaseholder prevail over those of the native title holder. Experts were adamant that dispossession of freehold title through a native title claim is not consistent with Australian law.
Verdict: Baseless

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