The Honorable Justice Lincoln Crowley spoke on April 30th-Anniversary lecture of the Mabo High Court decision – a founding day for the recognition of land rights for Indigenous Australians.
The 30thth Mabo Jubilee Lecture at James Cook University (JCU) in Queensland delivered by Supreme Court Justice Lincoln Crowley KC in recognition of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the Queensland Government.
The case of Eddie Mabo challenged the legal status that the land belonged to a group of Torres Strait Islanders from the “Crown”. The High Court’s decision overturned that reputation and paved the way for the Indigenous Title, a recognition by Australian law that Indigenous peoples have rights and interests in their lands that flow from their traditional laws and customs.
in the lecture his honor reflected on his school days at JCU, the university where Eddie Mabo worked as a groundsman and later founded a school that merged with JCU.
Working with JCU spiritual and educational staff, Eddie Mabo became interested in who owned the land his people lived on and in the native title.
“Eddie Mabo’s name and purpose [are] immortalized in Australian history by the High Court’s decision in the landmark 1992 case that recognized Aboriginal title and overturned the doctrine of terra nullius” Crowley J specified.
“Although I join a select group of esteemed speakers who have delivered the Mabo lecture in the past, I am uniquely qualified to deliver this lecture out a perspective that none of my predecessors have [has] obsessed,” his honor said the auditorium.
Justice Crowley also occupies an important place in Australian history as Australia’s first Aboriginal Supreme Court Justiceafter being appointed in May of this year.
Crowley J was taught by Marylyn Mayo, who graduated in the 1960s as part of a small group of women lawyers and later became the foundation director of JCU’s School of Law and acting dean.
“As a first-year student, Professor Mayo’s lectures gave me an understanding of the legal system and the theory and philosophy of law.” his honor explained.
“She was an amazing woman and a great teacher,” his honor reflected. “She always projected an energy and passion for the law that inspired her students.
“She showed me the methodology of a case analysis using the acronym FIRAC: Facts, Problems, Rules, Application and Conclusion – which I still use today and have used throughout my legal career.”
in the his honor‘s first experience in the courtroom, he knew law was the right choice. “In addition to the pressure and nervousness, I had also experienced the excitement and thrill that came with practicing law,” he said.
his honor explained his passion for the law. “In my opinion, the intellectual challenge is the law, the excitement is the fascinating cases, the joy of getting a fair outcome for clients, and the satisfaction of being a member of a distinguished academic profession.
“These offer the greatest rewards for those who choose to take on the roles and responsibilities in the legal profession, more than financial rewards.” Crowley J set.
One of the highlights of his career was when he achieved the personal and professional goal of being made a QC (now KC) – making him the first ever Indigenous person to be made a QC in Australian history.
“It wasn’t a performance I wanted” his honor mused, “but it was one I was so proud of”.