A review of “Indigenous remain ‘asset rich, dirt poor’ 25 years after Mabo”.
In the article “Indigenous remain ‘asset rich, dirt poor’ 25 years after Mabo”, Indigenous affairs editor, Fitzpatrick (2017) presents the socioeconomic situation of the Aboriginal people, using the views of the former prime minister’s advisor, Josephine Cashman. Miss Cashman pointed out that the promises made to the indigenous people, presented in the Mabo case, had not been fulfilled accordingly after the year 1992. Many indigenous people still have inadequate housing, poor health, restricted education and lower average incomes. About 25 years from the Wik decision, many Aboriginals were classified under the popular term ‘asset rich but dirt poor’. Even though the land belongs to the Aboriginal people, they have a right to live there, but do not have the necessary resources to invest in businesses. The article then states that the Australian government should invest billions of dollars to help with the social, economic and political problems in the Aboriginal community. The practicality and realism of the solution presented by the author to solve the Aboriginal problem should be questioned and evaluated. In addition, following the Mabo Case, the problems that the Aboriginal community have should be identified. This review will summarise and provide a balanced evaluation of Stephine’s article.
Tracing back to 1992, the Mabo case on native title rights was passed by the Hight Court of Australia. The High Court put forward two principles that offered hope for Indigenous people. The first principle is that the Aboriginal people should have title rights to their land in respect to their custom; the law recognises the existence of indigenous customs through their relationship with the land (Behrendt, 2007). The High Court also granted ‘radical title’, that is, the government retains eventual power over the land but does not have full ownership of it. The second decision of the Mabo decision was to reject terra nullius, which means Australia’s legal system recognizes indigenous people have lived in Australia for thousands of years and enjoyed rights to their land. (Reconciliation Australia, 2014). The land has been owned by indigenous people under native title. but in terms of ‘closing the gap’, there has been only marginal improvement in the lives of Aboriginal people.
Since the Mabo case, the reality is, per the author, land rights for Aboriginal people has not led to an improvement in quality of life. Indigenous Australians may have gained ownership of land but this has not led to greater opportunities for them. As the article states, Aboriginal people were given back the ‘bike’ that was stolen by others, they can sit on it, but the people who stole the bike do not believe Aboriginal people should have the capability or freedom to ride it. It means that since 1992, the High Court gave indigenous people land rights but indigenous people are not able to use their land assets...