PhD Students

Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry) Scholars

Ms Lily O'Neill (2011 - 2014)

TOPIC: 'Negotiating resource agreements for Greater Sunrise and Browse: A comparative study'

Lily O'Neill is a PhD student with the ATNS Project, and has previously worked for several years on the project as a research assistant.  Lily has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and is a practising lawyer.  Her areas of research interest are native title, negotiation and agreement-making, and international criminal law.

Her PhD research is focussed  
on a key idea in contemporary indigenous policy: that agreement-making over resources on indigenous land can help generate indigenous prosperity. However, while some native title holders have reaped substantial benefits from agreement-making with resource companies, others have recieved paltry compensation for the exploitation of their land. This research will explore the power dynamics that shape such negotiations through a case study analysis of several agreements, including those related to the Browse LNG deposit, located off the coast of north-western Australia. It will explore how and why these agreements took the forms that they did, in order to find out how native title groups can maximise the benefits potentially available to them from the agreement-making process.

Mr Angus Frith (2006 - 2011)

TOPIC: 'Sustainable Indigenous Entities for Making Agreements'

Native title is the recognition in Australian law of rights arising under Indigenous law. Indigenous people must form corporations to hold their native title. In practice, these corporations are bound by Indigenous law, even though their form arises from Western law.

This PhD uses two case studies to consider ways in which these corporations can operate sustainably while being subject to two systems of law. Building on Bhabha's idea of hybridity, this thesis suggests they are hybrids that exist in a third space between the two systems, where both Indigenous law and Australian law operate. Particular attention should be paid to the nature of the boundaries of the space, and to what happens within.

The boundaries should be permeable, so the corporation can operate effectively in both systems. Inside, both systems of law should continue to operate with integrity, actively engaging with each other, eventually becoming interdependent, each embedded in the other. This requires Australian law to give way to Indigenous law in certain situations, allowing it room to operate within the corporation.