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The Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland & Ors; The Thayorre People v The State of Queensland & Ors [1996] High Court of Australia (23 December 1996)

Category: Case Law
Binomial Name: High Court of Australia
Date: 1 January 1996
Sub Category:Case Law
Location:Australia
Subject Matter:Native Title
URL: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1996/40.html
Summary Information:
In mid 1993, before the enactment of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), the Wik Peoples made a claim for a determination of their native title rights and interests in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to land on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. The Thayorre People joined the action because they had claimed their native title rights and interests over an area of land which partly overlapped the Wik claim.
Detailed Information:
The land claimed by the two groups included land for which the Queensland Government had issued two pastoral leases - the Mitchelton Pastoral Holding Lease, granted pursuant to the Land Act 1910 (Qld), and the Holroyd River Pastoral Lease, granted pursuant to the Land Act 1962 (Qld).
The Wik and Thayorre Peoples argued that their native title rights and interests were not extinguished by the grant of leases, but rather coexisted with the interests of the lessees.
On 23 December 1996, the High Court handed down its decision in Wik Peoples v State of Queensland and Others. The decision confirmed that native title rights and interests may exist over land which is or has been subject to a pastoral lease, and possibly some other forms of leasehold tenure. The Court held that existing pastoral leases issued prior to 1 January 1994 and the rights granted under them are valid. It also held that the rights of the pastoralist prevail over native title rights and interests to the extent of any inconsistency.
Considered strictly on its facts, the Wik case is confined to a decision on two specific pastoral leases granted under the Land Act 1910 (Qld) and the Land Act 1962 (Qld). The High Court only looked at the merits of the lease instruments and the legislation under which they were issued, holding that these pastoral leases did not automatically extinguish any surviving native title rights and interests simply by their grant because they did not grant exclusive possession.

Related Entries

Agreement
  • Cape York Peninsula Heads of Agreement
  • Wik and Wik Way Native Title Group v State of Queensland [2009] FCA 789 (29 July 2009) (Determination No. 4)
  • Wik & Wik Way People and Cook Shire Council Agreement # 2
  • Organisation
  • State of Queensland - Respondent
  • High Court of Australia
  • Legislation
  • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)
  • Land Act 1910 (Qld)
  • Land Act 1962 (Qld)
  • Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth)
  • People
  • Wik and Wik-Way People - Native Title Claimant
  • Thayorre People - Native Title Claimant
  • Case Law
  • Western Australia v Ward (2002) 191 ALR 1 (8 August 2002)

  • References

    Book Section
    Philip Hunter (1997) "The Wik Decision: Unnecessary Extinguishment"
    Case Law
    Commonwealth of Australia (2000) Wik People v State of Queensland [2000] FCA 1443 (3 October 2000)
    Commonwealth of Australia The Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland & Ors; The Thayorre People v The State of Queensland & Ors

    Glossary

    Native Title (Australia)

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