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The 1980s was a time of significant social, political and cultural change. In Australia, the law was pivotal to these changes. The two High Court cases that this book explores - Koowarta v Bjelke-Petersen (1982) and the Tasmanian Dams case (1983) - are famous legally as they marked a decisive reckoning by the Court with both international law and federal constitutionalism. Yet these cases also offer a significant marker of Australia in the 1980s: a shift to a different form of political engagement, nationally and internationally, on complex questions about race and the environment.
This book brings these cases together for the first time. It does so to explore not only the legal legacy and relationship between Koowarta and Tasmanian Dams, but also to reflect on how Australians experience their law in time and place, and why those experiences might require more than the usual legal records. The authors include significant figures in Australian public life, some of whom were key participants in the cases, as well as established and respected scholars of law, history, environment and Indigenous studies.
This collection offers a combination of personal recollections of the cases, as well as a consideration of their ongoing significance in Australian life. This book was originally published as two special issues of the Griffith Law Review.