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MS 3780

Papers of Francis Gerard Brennan on Aboriginal land rights



Access

Open access - reading. Copying permitted for private study.  [Access code: R1 C1a]

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Scope and Content Note

Date range: 1973-1976, 1984

Extent: 36 cm (2 boxes)

Francis Gerard Brennan deposited the papers in the AIATSIS Library in May 1998 upon his retirement from the position of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The papers relate to the Commission of Inquiry into Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory which was established on 8 February 1973.  The Commissioner was Justice A.E. (Edward) Woodward.

The first report of this Commission was produced in July 1973.  It recommended that two Aboriginal Land Councils be set up in the Northern Territory, the Central Land Council and the Northern Land Council, that the Councils be given independent legal advice and that they make submissions on the first report.  This was done by both written submissions and at public hearings.

Brennan appeared on behalf of the Northern Land Council in the hearings of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission from 18 February 1974 to 1 March 1974.

Included in this collection are the transcripts of hearings, the written submissions of the Northern Land Council and the Gunmugurgur people of Oenpelli, the second report of the Commission (April 1974) and Brennan’s correspondence files relating to the Northern Land Council.

In 1975 Brennan became a part time Commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission and in 1976 was appointed President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a body he set up.  He held this position until 1979.  This collection includes a correspondence file entitled 'Aboriginal Affairs' from this time.

There is also related material about the Aboriginal Land Rights Commisson in other manuscript collections held by the Library.  For example, there are a number of papers in the W.E.H. Stanner Collection (MS 3752) and there are the FCAATSI submissions to the Commission in the Records of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (MS 3759). The Manuscript Collection Alphabetical List of Finding Aids lists some of the finding aids available for manuscripts.

For a complete listing of material by Brennan, and on the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission, that is held by the Institute, see the Mura online catalogue.

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Biographical Note

Francis Gerard Brennan was born on 22 May 1928, in Rockhampton, Queensland, the son of Frank Tenison and Gertrude Mary Brennan.  He was known as Gerard or Gerry Brennan.  He married Patricia O’Hara in 1953 and they had three sons and four daughters.  He holds a BA, LLB (Qld), Hon. LLD (Trinity College Dublin, Queensland, Australian National University, University of Melbourne and University of Technology, Sydney), Hon. D. Litt (Central Queensland) and Hon. D. Univ (Griffith).  He was admitted to the Bar in 1951 and became a Queen's Counsel in 1965.

Brennan’s distinguished legal career saw him become a Justice of the High Court of Australia in 1981 and the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1995 until his retirement in 1998. He also served on the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Australian Industrial Court and the Administrative Review Council.  Brennan was a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, an Additional Judge on the Supreme Court of the ACT, a Non-Permanent Judge, Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong, and an External Judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

Brennan was President of the National Union of Australian University Students in 1949, President of the Australian Bar Association from 1975 to 1976 and the Bar Association, Queensland,  from 1974 to 1976, and a Member of the Executive Law Council of Australia from 1974-76.

In 1998 Brennan became Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney and Foundation Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales.

In 1981 Brennan was created a Knight Companion of the Order of the British Empire and in 1988 he received a Companion Order of Australia.

Reference

Who’s who in Australia 2002, p. 299

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Series List

Series

Contents

1

Aboriginal Land Rights Commission - Transcripts of proceedings, 1974

2

Aboriginal Land Rights Commission - Reports, 1973-74

3

Aboriginal Land Rights Commission - Submissions, 1974

4

Northern Land Council - Correspondence, 1974-76

5

‘Aboriginal affairs’ file, 1976-84

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Series Descriptions

1.    ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS COMMISSION - Transcripts of proceedings, 1974

In 1973 a Commission of Inquiry into Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory was established.  The Commissioner was Justice A.E. (Edward) Woodward.

This series contains official transcripts of the proceedings of the Commission.

Item

1

18 February 1974 at 2.05 pm, p. 1-34

2

19 February 1974 at 10.00 am, p.35-88B

3

20 February 1974 at 10.00 am, p. 89-156

4

25 February 1974 at 2.00pm, p. 157-196

5

26 February 1974 at 10.00 am, p. 197-260

6

27 February 1974 at 10.05 am, p. 261-339

7

28 February 1974 at 10.05 am, p. 342-391

8

1 March 1974 at 10.00 am, p. 392-469

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2.   ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS COMMISSION - Reports, 1973-74

This small series contains the first and second reports of the Commission.

Item

1

Aboriginal Land Rights Commission. First report, July 1973, annotated by Brennan. [Also held by the Library at B A927.52/R1 and P AUS]

2

Aboriginal Land Rights Commission.  Second report, April 1974.  [Also held by the Library at B A927.52/R1]

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3.    'ABORIGINAL LAND RIGHTS COMMISSION – Submissions, 1974

Submissions made to the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission in 1974 are contained in this series.

Item

1

Submission on behalf of the Gunmugurgur known as N-Madjawarr, Na-Murrwan Na-Mirrar and other members of the Aboriginal community at Oenpelli, February 1974.  [Also held by the Library at MS 1289]

2

Submission by the Northern Land Council, January 1974, annotated by Brennan

3

Submission by the Northern Land Council - Schedule, January 1974

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4.    NORTHERN LAND COUNCIL – Correspondence, 1974-76

This series contains copies of the Northern Land Council correspondence files relating to the period when Brennan was Senior Counsel to the Council.

Included are a number of papers relating to mining issues, such as ‘Queensland Mines Limited Provisional Exploration Programme 1975, Arnhem Land, NT’, ‘Notes on progress and trends in conclusions in the Nabarlek Uranium Mining Proposal Study by Aminco & Associates Pty Ltd’, March 1975.  Also ‘Report of a visit to Pancontinental’, ‘Basic guidelines to follow in future negotiations with mining companies’ and draft agreements, such as that with Pan Continental

Also included are minutes of meetings, ‘Memorandum for the Minister’ by Brennan on the Second report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission, ‘The recognition of traditional Aboriginal law’, by Brennan, and copies of legislation and draft legislation.

Some of the papers in this series are photocopies.

4 items

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5.   ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS’ FILE, 1976-84

This series contains miscellaneous papers on Aboriginal affairs.

The bulk of the file consists of correspondence.  Correspondents include Frederick (Fred) Chaney, Barrie Dexter and Silas Roberts.

Included is an address ‘Right reasons for Aboriginal land rights’ given by Fr Frank Brennan at the Annual Conference on Religious Education, Brisbane, 1984 and a copy of Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill, 1976 and other legislation. There is also a draft agreement between ‘Queensland Mines Ltd and … the Northern Land Council’ and a newspaper clipping on Aboriginal land rights and mining.

1 item

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Box List

Box

Series

Items

1

1

 
 

2

 
 

3

1-2

2

3

3

 

4

 
 

5

 

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Finding aid compiled by P. Brady, March 2002