Four Famous Australian Court Cases

26 Mar
2020

There are several different court cases seen every day, but not all of them stand out enough to be remembered years down the line. Cases that are remembered are surrounded by controversy, a historical moment, new precedences, or are merely odd interpretations of the law. Australia has had its fair share as well, including these three famous court cases.

Mabo vs Queensland (No 2), 1992

Possibly the most famous Australian court case, Mabo vs Queensland (No 2) rewrote the country’s national land laws to recognize its indigenous population as the original inhabitants of Australia. The former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, issued a public apology to the stolen generations of indigenous people. After a decade of reaching a conclusion to this case, they were allowed to claim traditional rights to unalienated land.

Chamberlain vs the Queen, 1984

Chamberlain vs the Queen was an odd murder trial centred around the death of an infant during a camping holiday. The prosecution of the case claimed the child’s mother committed the murder, while the mother claimed a dingo took her child. Questionable blood testing, poor eyewitnesses who backed the mother, and a forensic scientist who had their evidence overturned in previous trials eventually led to the mother being found guilty for the murder of her infant child. In 1986 new evidence emerged regarding the case that showed the child might have actually been killed by a dingo, leading to the eventual release and acquisition of Chamberlain.

Commonwealth vs Tasmania, 1983

An environmental victory was achieved with the Commonwealth vs Tasmania case in 1983. The Federal government clashed with the Tasmanian government in the High Court over the construction of a hydroelectric dam, which the Tasmanian government believed they had a legal right to build. The Federal government, on the other hand, opposed the construction under the World Heritage Convention, which aims to protect heritage around the world that has such a high universal value that its conservation is important for current and future generations. The Federal government won the case in the High Court with a 4:3 majority vote, both setting a legal precedent and preserving a key part of the Australian wilderness.

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