June 3rd marks 20 years since the High Court’s Mabo decision on native title and next week Four Corners looks behind the decision that threatened to divide a nation.
Liz Jackson reports on the impact of this historic judgement, the reaction it inspired and the inside story of the negotiations to create the law that would pave the way for Native Title. We hear from the power brokers who forced the nation to confront its history, and their critics.
Former High Court Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason:
“I foresaw that the judgement would be controversial but as often happens you don’t actually foresee the extent of the controversy.”
Former President WA Liberal Party Bill Hassell:
“It was a sense of outrage. That the High Court, which is not elected by anybody, not accountable to anybody, had presumed to move into the legislative area to make a whole new law.”
Aboriginal negotiator, Mick Dodson:
“Certainly it was something different for the leadership, probably the first time when we had such a huge issue, being directly negotiated with the Prime Minister.”
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating:
“Well the biggest pressure came at the end. The greater body of the parliamentary caucus in the form of senior people in the cabinet wanted me to give it up towards the end… and I said you’ve got to be joking, you’ve got to be joking, but they weren’t joking. You know they didn’t think I could get it through.”
Monday 7th May at 8.30 pm on ABC1.