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Part I Foundations, Ch.2 Settlement

John Waugh

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Australian Constitution

Edited By: Cheryl Saunders, Adrienne Stone

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 24 March 2023

This chapter explores the law of Australian colonization and its relationship with the laws of Australia's Indigenous peoples. A line of legal continuity links the Australian Constitution to the imposition of British law made during the colonization of Australia and to the decisions of colonial courts that treated the Australian colonies as colonies of settlement. Those decisions, after some initial doubts, displaced the diverse and intricate laws of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, who have occupied the continent for tens of thousands of years. Only in relation to native title to land have later courts made a major reassessment of the status of Indigenous laws. There, the High Court has challenged the factual assumptions of earlier decisions and found accommodation for Indigenous land ownership within the common law, but left the legal framework of colonization otherwise intact.

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