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TriCON Seminar with Dr. Sean Brennan

TriCon is delighted to host Dr Sean Brennan, who is a member of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the UNSW Faculty of Law & Justice and was the Director of the Centre between 2014 and 2019.

After the Voice Referendum, a Constitutional Case Testing Australian Government Liability for Aboriginal Dispossession

Date & Time: Thursday, 4 April 2024, 5:30pm.

Location: Galbraith Seminar Room, Trinity Long Room Hub.

Dr. Sean Brennan is an Associate Professor of Law at UNSW and teaches and writes mainly in the areas of constitutional law, native title and Aboriginal land rights. At this seminar, Dr Brennan will discuss the interplay between constitutional referenda and litigation in respect of Aboriginal property rights in Australia (full details below), with a response from Dr Rachael Walsh of TCD Law School.

Australia’s highest court will soon decide, in Commonwealth v Yunupingu, whether the constitutional guarantee of ‘just terms’ for the ‘acquisition of property’ applies to the extinguishment of ‘native title’ (Aboriginal property rights that survived British colonisation). The Commonwealth is running two arguments – one geographical, one conceptual – that, if successful, would terminate the litigation at an early stage. The first is that effectively people living in the Northern Territory (about 30 per cent of whom are Indigenous) are not protected by the constitutional property guarantee, because they live in a Territory not a State. The second is that native title doesn’t qualify for just terms protection because it is said to be ‘inherently defeasible’. The case is a major test of the capacity for Australian law to address Aboriginal dispossession, soon after a demoralising defeat for First Nations’ political aspirations, with the ‘No’ vote prevailing at the 2023 Voice referendum.