Guest Lecture on “Introduction to the Property Law in Australia”

Guest Lecture on “Introduction to the Property Law in Australia”

Prof Mike Austin, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide, Associate Dean of Law (International) and Associate Dean (International) in an engaging lecture, introduced the students to property law, particularly the law in Australia. He talked the students through the meaning, creation and implications of legal title, and gave them a broad framework within which to understand the problems thrown up by prior interests in the land.

Prof Austin also talked about the legal struggle by the indigenous population for the recognition of rights in or in relation to land in Australia, involving both the common law and legislation. He further said that the legal push for land rights, by Australia’s Indigenous population, did eventually come but it was not until the 1960s and 1970s. He pointed out that the Indigenous plaintiffs used the common law as another avenue for the recognition and assertion of legal rights in or in relation to land.

He also focused on topics covering Indigenous Peoples and their relationships with land or alternatively, Traditional Knowledge, focusing on the existing customary basis for indigenous people to claim ownership over land and resources, including both physical and spiritual connections.

Prof Austin examined the resurgence of customary law over the past thirty years and explored the influence traditional legal values such as ubuntu (humaneness) are having on the administration of justice. He argued that recognition of customary law and the exercise by Indigenous Peoples of their role as lawmakers is crucial for good global governance, which it argues should be based on the notion of intercultural justice. He concluded that customary law has a vital role to play alongside natural law, positive law and human rights in the reconstruction of our fragmented legal order. Prof Austin explored the barriers to achieving the vision of Aboriginal rights to land that were articulated in the Mabo case. These include the re-conceptualising of native title as a regime to give certainty to non-Aboriginal interests, the romanticism of Aboriginal culture that permeated the judgement and the fact that, under the judicial system. The students were also given useful insights into the torrens title system, its benefits and operation. In turn, they responded enthusiastically with several questions, particularly on the subject of native title in Australia.

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