Native Title & Wik

23 December 2015



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Wik Peoples v Queensland

Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland is a decision of the High Court of Australia delivered on 23 December 1996 on whether statutory leases extinguish native title rights. Wikipedia

End dateDecember 23, 1996

Ruling courtHigh Court of Australia

In December 1996 the High Court heard an appeal on Wik Peoples v State of Queensland and Others (Wik). The Wik people argued that as these pastoral leases had been granted through State legislation and in Land Rights Acts, they were leases under statutory law, and therefore not common law leases. They said that because of this the pastoral leases that had been granted were not exclusive leases like a normal common law lease agreement. The defendants in the case; the State of Queensland, said that a lease was a lease no matter what way you define it. The High Court found in favour of the Wik people on this point and said that there was a difference between these particular statutory leases and a common law lease.

The High Court also found that the statutory pastoral lease granted by the Crown (through the State of Queensland) did not automatically extinguish native title as it did not allow for exclusive use of the land by the lessee (the lease holder). The Court decided that in this case native title and the pastoralist lease could co-exist alongside each other.



Wik Peoples v Queensland

Image (a) - flag can be found here.

Image (b) can be found here.


Suggested resources relating to Native Title, Mabo & Wik:

o   Racism No Way

o   A stepping stone in native title: the Wik case, 19 years on

o   The Law Handbook