Macquarie University
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Towards establishing a treaty relationship in Australia

posted on 2022-03-29, 02:47 authored by Stuart James Bradfield
Australia is unique among settler societies in the extent to which it has denied the rights of Indigenous peoples who lived here for millennia before European colonisation. The original inhabitants, or 'First Peoples', were not deemed worthy of a status whereby they would be participants in negotiated settlements, or treaties. In Australia, ancient 'discourses of domination' were employed to entrench an inequitable relationship between peoples, the basis of which has yet to be disturbed. This thesis argues for treaty, or treatylike agreements, as the mechanism capable of establishing a just relationship between peoples in Australia. The inherent flexibility of treaty allows for a truly bilateral process where the legitimate status of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is mutually reinforced. Important lessons can be learnt from the conception, practice and difficulties of British Columbia's modern-day treaty process. There, centuries of denial have been replaced by a commitment to negotiate a new future. In Australia, recognition of native title has promoted an encouraging new culture of agreement-making between peoples. However, archaic perceptions continue, casting doubt on the fundamental nature of change to the relationship. Indigenous leaders, therefore, continue historic demands for recognition of their distinct status via the establishment of a treaty relationship.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Theorising about Aboriginal rights: framing the question of status -- 'One right way': developing the discourses of domination -- Importing the discourses of domination: Aboriginal status in Australia 1788-1972 -- From treaty to treaty: continuity and change in Aboriginal status from 1972 to 2001 -- Back to the future or towards treaty? -- What is a treaty?: definitions and misconceptions -- Normative features of the treaty relationship -- Contemporary treaty-making in British Columbia: beginnings, process and practice -- Contemporary treaty-making in British Columbia: a new relationship? -- Native title and contemporary agreement making in Australia: a de facto treaty process? -- Conclusion.


Bibliography: p. 351-386

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Humanities, Department of Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Colin Tatz


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Stuart James Bradfield 2003.






ix, 386 p

Former Identifiers

mq:10307 1419036