Federal Court Rejects Brisbane Native Title Claims


The Full Court of the Federal Court has upheld the primary judge’s decision that native title does not exist in Brisbane and its surrounding areas in an appeal ruling made this week.

Obligations under Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation in Queensland still apply.

As a result of this decision, native title does not need to be considered in relation to dealings with the land and waters in the identified area of the claim according to lawyers McCullough Robertson.

The primary judge found that neither the Turrbal People nor the Yugara people held native title rights and interests in relation to any land or water in the claim area. It followed that the members of the claim groups had failed to prove continuity of connection to the claim area since sovereignty.


In addition, the primary judge exercised his discretion to make a separate determination over the area that native title does not exist in relation to the claim area.

McCullough Robertson have advised that industry, and in particular property developers and government, should be aware that as a result of this decision, native title will not need to be addressed as an element of project development throughout Brisbane and its surrounding areas.

Land users are still required to consider their obligations to manage Aboriginal cultural heritage and should carefully consider their Aboriginal cultural heritage compliance strategies.

Although native title may not need to be addressed in the determined area, appropriate legal advice should still be sought on the implications of this decision for cultural heritage compliance and that the status of the appeal process should also be monitored.

A transcript of the full ruling can be read here.

Source: McCullough Robertson Lawyers

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