the Papers of Bryan Keon-Cohen
National Library of Australia
Papers of Bryan Keon-Cohen
- Date Range
1981-2000 (bulk 1982-1994)
- Collection Number
(12 boxes, 14 cartons + 4 folio boxes)
- Language of Materials
National Library of Australia
Mabo Litigation Records emanating from both the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia. They comprise a Statement of Facts by the Plaintiffs, wills, land transactions, court transcripts, exhibits, pleadings, applications, witness statements, submissions, correspondence, memoranda and research material.
Scope and Contents
The Mabo Litigation Records arise from the litigation conducted in both the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia. They comprise a Statement of Facts by the Plaintiffs, wills, land transactions, court transcripts, exhibits, pleadings, applications, witness statements, submissions, correspondence, memoranda and research material. They have been arranged into volumes in broad chronological order. Many of the papers are in copy format, especially the research materials.
Other documents generated over the ten-year period of the litigation did not find their way into this set of materials. Pursuant to normal practice, the Judges' copies of exhibits were not released. A large quantity of other categories of material generated by various members of the Plaintiffs' team and the Defendants' team have not been included. Examples of such categories would have been cases, statutes and academic publications relevant to the Mabo Case, but readily available to the public.
In July 1996 the Library acquired some papers of Greg McIntyre. They were subsequently incorporated into the Keon-Cohen Papers. While the core group is in Volumes 64, 67 and 68, some McIntyre Papers may be found in other parts of the collection, for example Volume 8.
A detailed index of 246 pages, compiled by Bryan Keon-Cohen, is available on request. This index describes individual items in each numbered volume.
Conditions Governing Access
Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn878792).
Conditions Governing Use
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Bryan Keon-Cohen, National Library of Australia, MS 9518, [series and volume/envelope number]'.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of the collection was donated to the National Library by Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC in 2000. Additional papers were donated by Greg McIntyre in 1996.
The majority of the papers were arranged by Bryan Keon-Cohen into volumes in broad chronological order. Papers of Greg McIntyre were incorporated into the arrangement by the Library (see Scope and Content note).
Papers of Eddie Koiki Mabo are held in the Manuscript Collection at MS 8822. The papers were acquired from Mabo's widow, Bonita, in 1995.
Eddie Koiki Mabo (1937-92) was born on Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait. In 1982, he and four other Torres Strait Islanders began legal proceedings to establish their traditional ownership of their land. As he was the first named plaintiff in the action, it became known as the Mabo Case.
The Mabo litigation lasted ten years, from 1982 to 1992. In June 1992, six months after the death of Eddie Mabo, a landmark High Court ruling was declared. This gave legal recognition to the fact that indigenous land ownership existed before European settlement and that in some cases, this land tenure was not subsequently extinguished by the Crown. The ruling refuted the legal concept of terra nullius.
The five Murray Islander plaintiffs were: Eddie Koiki Mabo, Celuia Mapo Salee, James Rice, Sam Passi and his brother Father David Passi The lawyers who acted for the plaintiffs were Bryan Keon-Cohen, Ron Castan, Greg McIntyre and Barbara Hocking.
Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC is currently the Principal Legal Officer of the Mirimbiak Nations Aboriginal Corporation, Melbourne. He became a barrister of the Victorian Bar in September 1981. In January 1982 he was invited by Ron Castan, QC, to join the plaintiffsâ€™ legal team in what was to become known as the Mabo Case. The team began by drafting a Statement of Claim issued in the High Court of Australia in May 1982.
Greg McIntyre, whose papers are incorporated into this collection, was initially a solicitor with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service in Cairns. Following this, he was the instructing solicitor in the Koowarta Case. He became the instructing solicitor and occasional counsel in the Mabo cases throughout 1982-92.
The encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia. Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994.
Keon-Cohen, Bryan. 'The Mabo litigation: a personal and procedural account', Melbourne University Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 3, December 2000, pp. 892-951. Photocopy held in MS 9518, Envelope 25.
Keon-Cohen, Bryan. A Mabo Memoir: Islan Kustom to Native Title. Victoria : Zemvic Press, 2013. Available from the author at www.bryankeoncohen.com.
Sharp, Nonie. No ordinary judgment. Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press, 1996.
Mabo: life of an island man. Melbourne, Cinemedia (videorecording, Film Australia), 1997.
Series 1. Numbered volumes (covered by index), 1981-2000
File Volume 1. Plaintiffs' statement of Facts
File Volume 2. Annexure D. Murray Island Records - Land Cases
File Volume 3. Annexure D. Murray Island records - Wills, Land Transactions, Miscellaneous
File Volume 4. Plaintiffs' statements of Facts: Source Documents
File Volume 5. Preliminary materials and early draft documents
File Volume 6. Correspondence and memoranda between counsel and other interested parties, 1982-1991
File Volume 7. Killoran materials, 1982
File Volume 8. Greg McIntyre Affidavit and Exhibits, 1982
File Volume 9. Pleading and essential court documents, 1982-1987
File Volume 10. High Court Interlocutory Applications and Negotiations, 1982-1986
File Volume 11. Discovery, notices etc., 1985-1989
File Volume 12. Plaintiffs' witness statements (A): drafts and research notes
File Volume 13. Plaintiffs' witness statements (B): drafts and research notes. Witnesses not used, 1986-1990
Includes original hand-drawn maps and diagrams of various portions of land, boundary markers, etc. used in the Mabo case.
Item 1x. Collection of original hand-drawn maps/diagrams of various portions of land, boundary markers, etc.
File Volume 14. Plaintiffs' witness statements (C): drafts and background papers, 1986-1989
File Volume 15. Plaintiffs' witness statements (D): Kotaoji materials not handed up
File Volume 16. Cases illustrating rules, Castan opening notes
File Volume 17. E.K. Mabo evidence
File Volume 18. (Formerly 8A) Trial of facts, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1986-1989
File Volume 19. (Formerly 8B) Trial of facts, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1986-1989
File Volume 20. (Formerly 8C) Trial of facts, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1986-1989
File Volume 21. Demurrer applications, 1987-1988
File Volume 22. Demurrer book, 1988
File Volume 23. Demurrer TS, and plaintiffs' supporting documents
File Volume 24. Documents prepared and/or tendered by plaintiffs for demurrer hearing
File Volume 25. Demurrer: plaintiffs' research materials etc.
File Volume 26. Pleadings and essential court documents, 1989
File Volume 27. Directions hearings, trial and application to Toohey, J. Transcript and documents, 1988-1989
File Volume 28. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1989
File Volume 29. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, May 1989
File Volume 30. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, June 1989
File Volume 31. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, June 1989
File Volume 32. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, June 1989
File Volume 33. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, July 1989
File Volume 34. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, July 1989
File Volume 35. Transcript, Supreme Court of Queensland, July-August 1989
File Volume 36. Plaintiffs' final submissions, Supreme Court, Volume 1
File Volume 37. Queensland final submissions, Supreme Court, Volume 1
File Volume 38. Queensland final submissions, Supreme Court, Volume 2, 3
File Volume 39. Trial exhibits Nos 5-6
File Volume 40. Trial exhibits Nos 7-28
File Volume 41. Trial exhibit No.29
File Volume 42. Trial exhibit Nos 30-78
File Volume 43. Trial exhibit No. 79 (Index volume of 42 volumes of source documents)
File Volume 44. Trial exhibits Nos 80-150
File Volume 45. Trial exhibits Nos 151-213
File Volume 46. Trial exhibits Nos 214-221
File Volume 47. Trial exhibits Nos 222, 233, 238-242, 244-252
File Volume 48. Trial exhibits Nos 234-237
File Volume 49. Trial exhibit No. 243
File Volume 50. Trial exhibits Nos 253-277
File Volume 51. Trial exhibits Nos 278-279
File Volume 52. Trial exhibit No. 279
File Volume 53. Trial exhibit No.279
File Volume 54. Trial exhibit No. 280
File Volume 55. Trial exhibits Nos 281-283
File Volume 56. Trial exhibit No. 284
File Volume 57. Trial exhibit No. 284
File Volume 58. Trial exhibit No. 284
File Volume 59. Trial exhibit No. 284
File Volume 60. Trial exhibit Nos 285-292
File Volume 61. Trial exhibits Nos 293-313
File Volume 62. Determination of Facts: Moynihan, J, Queensland Supreme Court, 16 November 1990 (three volumes)
File Volume 63. Plaintiffs' written submissions to High Court, April 1991 (6 volumes)
File Volume 64. Transcript High Court Hearing, 28-31 May 1991
File Volume 65. Correspondence, 1983-1989
File Envelope 1. Correspondence with defendants, 1983-1989
File Envelope 2. Correspondence with defendants, 1984-1987
File Envelope 3. Correspondence with defendants, 1988-1989
File Volume 66. Correspondence, 1983-1984
File Envelope 4. Correspondence with defendants, 1983-1984
Housed in 3 folders.
File Volume 67. Correspondence, 1983-1989
File Envelope 5. Correspondence with defendants, 1983-1989
Housed in 2 folders.
File Envelope 6A. Correspondence with town agents, all years
File Envelope 6B. Correspondence with Counsel, 1983-1988
File Volume 68. Correspondence, miscellaneous, 1985-1991
File Envelope 7. Correspondence with Counsel, 1987-1989
File Envelope 8. Correspondence with defendants, 1989
File Envelope 9. Parliamentary questions, ALP lawyers and GDC, 1989
File Envelope 10. Correspondence, Legal Aid etc., 1988-1991
File Envelope 11. Correspondence, 1991
File Volume 69. Miscellaneous documents
File Envelope 12. Miscellaneous documents, 1990-1992
File Envelopes 13A-13E. Miscellaneous documents, 1986-1992
Housed in 3 folders.
Comprises: Envelope 13A Post High Court appeal decision congratulations, 1992; Envelope 13B Miscellaneous documents, 1991; Envelope 13C Miscellaneous documents, 1990; Envelope 13D Miscellaneous documents, 1988; Envelope 13E Court documents, correspondence, 1986.
File Envelope 14. Correspondence, 1995
File Volume 70. Research materials
File Envelope 15. Research
Housed in 2 folders.
File Envelope 16. Research - James Cook University
File Volume 71. Summary of court proceedings
File Envelope 17. Summary of court proceedings by plaintiffs
Housed in 2 folders.
File Volume 72. Correspondence and copy exhibits
File Envelope 18A. Correspondence, 1985-1988
File Envelope 18B. Media
File Envelope 18C. General correspondence, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Attorney-General
File Envelope 19. Correspondence, 1981-1983
File Envelope 20. Exhibits
File Volume 73. Miscellaneous documents
File Envelope 21. Research workers
Housed in 2 folders.
File Envelope 22. Mabo research notes - Brear
File Envelope 23. Correspondence - Yarra Bank Films, 1990
File Envelope 24. Correspondence, miscellaneous
File Volume [unnumbered]. Additional material (not covered by index)
File Envelope 25. Copy of article by Bryan Keon-Cohen, 2000
The article is entitled 'The Mabo Litigation; a personal and procedural account'. Published in the Melbourne University Law Review, Volume 24, no. 3, December 2000, pages 893-951. Also posted on the Melbourne University Law Review web page.
Series 2. Numbered volumes with P prefix (not covered by index)
File Box 20. Volumes P1-P4
File Box 21. Volume P6-9, P13 - box 21
Series 3. Duplicates (not covered by index)
File Box 22. Duplicates, 1982 - box 22
File Box 23. Duplicates, 1982-1987 - box 23
File Box 24. Duplicates, various dates, 1988-1989 - box 24
File Box 25. Duplicates, various dates, 1990-1994 - box 25
File Box 26. Copies of research material - box 26
Series 4. Assorted over-sized volumes (not covered by Index)
File Volume 1. No title
File Volume 2. No title
File Volume 3. No title
File Volume 6. Kindergarten purchase from Grobida Mabo, 1967
File Volume 7. Kindergarten purchase from Grobida Mabo, 1967
File Volume 8. Report of Torres Strait Islands Advisory Council, 1981
File Volume 9. No title
File Volume M12. Research
File Volume [unnumbered]. By-laws
||1 - 4
||5 - 8
||9 - 12
||13 - 17
||18 - 22
||23 - 26
||27 - 30
||31 - 34
||35 - 37
||38 - 42
||43 - 46
||47 - 48
||Folio Box 1
||50 - 51
||52 - 54
||55 - 58
||59 - 62
||63 - 67
||17 - 18
||70 - 71
||18 - 19
||P1 - P4
||P6 - P9, P13
||Folio Box 1
||2 - 3, 6
||Folio Box 2
||7 - 8
||Folio Box 3
||9, M12, unnumbered vol.
||Folio Box 4