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The Mabo decision was a landmark court decision in Australia that sought to recognize the land rights and title of the native population. At the same time, the ruling expunged the notion that the Crown had absolute beneficial ownership of the land by virtue of settling a colony. The court recognized that the native people had stayed on the land longer and had established laws governing their land in harmony with the common law. In the interest of justice, it was thus agreed that ownership of the land by the natives was traditional and as per the people's customs. Further, the decision offered an opportunity to the natives to lodge ownership claims with regards to their traditional land.
The court’s decision led to the Native Title Act of 1993. The Act was aimed at protecting and recognizing the land rights and ownership of the natives as established in the Mabo decision. It also provided the framework for the establishment of a tribunal to hear and resolve title claims by the natives.
"We give the indigenous people of Australia, at last, the standing they are owed as the original occupants of this continent," Prime Minister Paul Keating said during the passage of the Native Title Act.
In essence, the two events led to national recognition of land rights vested on the native population of Australia and the will of the government to protect these rights by establishing the legal framework.
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