The origins of 'Terra nullius'

8 May 2006

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Dr Andrew Fitzmaurice delivered a public lecture about the concept of 'terra nullius', one of the most emotive issues in contemporary Australian politics, on Wednesday 3rd May 2006.

Dr Andrew Fitzmaurice
Dr Andrew Fitzmaurice

Launching the 2006 Key Concepts Public Lecture Seriesfor the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Andrew Fitzmauricespoke about the origins of the term which has been central to recent debates about indigenous rights in Australia in particular and in former colonies in general.

The term 'terra nullius' first entered public debate in Australia in the 1980s when it was associated with the public's sense of the injustice of Aboriginal dispossession.

In the past two years 'terra nullius' has become more emotive as a number of political commentators have sought to show that the idea had no part in our history.

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