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Deconstructing aqua nullius: Reclaiming Aboriginal water rights and communal identity in Australia
This paper examines and analyses the historical flawed treatment of Indigenous peoples’ water rights and interests by Australian governments in the development of national water reform, and how the early stages of the reform process failed to account for Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights to water, its use, management and ownership. It is not the purpose of this paper to examine or interpret Australia’s current common law and statutory water regimes. Rather, the paper argues that governments’ lack of inclusion of Indigenous water rights1 and interests resembles Australia’s western framing of Indigenous land rights - shaped by the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’ - and reconstructs Indigenous water rights as aqua nullius or ‘water belonging to no one’.
Marshall, Virginia (2016). Deconstructing aqua nullius: Reclaiming aboriginal water rights and communal identity in Australia. In Indigenous Law Bulletin. 8 (26), 9-14.