Over a century before Mabo and generations before ‘Terra Nullius, Aboriginal land rights were briefly acknowledged by the early colonists of South Australia and Victoria. The way to Hell is paved with good intentions. Lust for land snuffed out hopes for a fair go, as the original owners of the land were pushed to the margins. This book looks at the way colonists exploited humanitarian rhetoric developed by Englands anti-slavery movement, to oust Aboriginal claims; how they reinvented the Common Law of property to secure their own title, twisting legal analysis and economic theory to suit their aims. It also explores the interactions between colonists and governments in Hobart, Sydney and London. Unlike many writers on the early colonial period, Hannah Robert takes full account of legal and bureaucratic sources. The book also has some interesting illustrations.
Hannah Robert is a historian from Sydney, who now works as a lecturer in Law at Melbournes La Trobe University.