Case summary: Wik Peoples v Queensland

AIATSIS Research

May, 2011
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Wik: Coexistence, pastoral leases, mining, nati vetitle and the ten point plan

In The Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland & Ors; The Thayorre People v The State of Queensland & Ors [1996] HCA 40 ('Wik'), the High Court held that native title rights could coexist on land held by pastoral leaseholders. The High Court decided that:

  • a pastoral lease does not necessarily confer rights of exclusive possession on the pastoralist
  • the rights and obligations of the pastoralist depend on the terms of the lease and the law under which it was granted
  • the mere grant of a pastoral lease does not necessarily extinguish any remaining native title rights
  • if there is any inconsistency between the rights of the native title holders and the rights of the pastoralist, the rights of the native title holders must yield.

So if there is a conflict of rights, the native title holders come off second best. If there is no conflict, the rights of each co-exist.


Last reviewed: 26 Jul 2017