How to Give Away Half a Continent

In my book The Break-up of Australia, published in 2016, the endpapers contained a map from the Native Title Tribunal showing how much land had been ceded to Aboriginal groups since the Keating Labor government’s Native Title Act of 1993. When I first saw the map I was more than surprised by how much of the Australian continent had been given away by this court. The map showed that, as a result of the tribunal’s determinations, some 30.4 per cent of the continent was owned by Aboriginal people in 2016. What’s more, the tribunal had accepted claims, which it had still to formally determine, for another 31.7 per cent of Australian land. That is, by the time this second batch of claims had been determined, 62.1 per cent of the Australian continent would be in Aboriginal hands. At the time, this seemed an extraordinary figure. What was equally extraordinary was that none of this data had attracted any interest from the journalists and editors of our fourth estate.

Last week, I checked the same map again. It had been updated on July 1, 2022, and showed that in the last six years the Native Title Tribunal had been busy handing over much more land to the same people. According to its latest figures, the tribunal has determined that 49.3 per cent of the Australian continent now belongs to Aboriginal people. And there are still more claims waiting for another 13.4 per cent of the continent to be formally determined. So the combined total of land to be defined by the tribunal as belonging to Aboriginal people now amounts to 62.7 per cent of the continent. Only 37.3 per cent of the continent belongs to the rest of us.

To put this in terms of area rather than percentages, Australia contains 7,686,850 square kilometers of land, including Tasmania and the offshore islands (Wikipedia: Geography of Australia) and native title now exists over 3,789,617 square kilometers of it.

Aboriginal land now covers an area more than four times the size of the state of New South Wales of 809,444 square kilometers. It dwarfs the acreage of Western Europe — the total area of Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal amounts to 2,173,494 square kilometers (CIA World Factbook). And more native title claimants are waiting for determinations to be made on another 1,030,038 square kilometers of the continent.

In the early years of the Native Title Tribunal, a few claims were denied, about 10 per cent of those made. However, today the tribunal only accepts claims that fulfill all its criteria, so all those still in the tribunal’s pipeline will be admitted. Hence all the 13.4 per cent of Australia awaiting an answer will eventually be determined in the claimants’ favour. Here is the distribution by state and territory:

National Native Title Tribunal, Determinations of Native Title and Claimant Applications, as at 1 July 2022, Percentage of Land Covered. Source: National Native Title Tribunal, Native Title Determinations and Claimant Applications: http://www.nntt.gov.au/Maps/Schedule_and_Determinations_map.jpg

What the members of the Aboriginal political class are now demanding from the Australian people is constitutional change that permits the Commonwealth government to recognise that all this land be put in the hands of independent, self-governing Aboriginal crypto nations. Their political connection to the 37 per cent of the non-indigenous continent would be by treaties. However, these treaties would require the rest of us to pay for the upkeep of the Aboriginal states, since the existing remote communities have clearly demonstrated that, left to themselves, they could never become self-sufficient entities. Although the taxes of ordinary Australian citizens would be paying all the bills, they would nonetheless be treated as trespassers in what was once their own country.

It is hard to understand why this is not an issue in the debate over the Albanese government’s commitment to constitutional change. Once again, our mainstream media has shown it would rather repeat the homilies of leftist ideology than investigate all that lies behind this agenda. They should be putting the full case before the Australian people.

The Native Title Tribunal’s map is something all Australians should see before they vote on changing their Constitution.

Order The Break-up of Australia here

28 thoughts on “How to Give Away Half a Continent

  • brandee says:

    This issue Keith must have seemed too monolithic for many heads to encompass. Six years ago your book ‘The Break up of Australia’ was published and where then were the conservative political parties and the commentators? Now these parties are directionless and in disarray and the revolutionaries are in charge in Canberra, Finally The Voice issue will cause alert conservatives to see this breaking up of Australia as the existential threat, and like Churchill, you were first to recognise national vulnerability.

    • Peejay says:

      Keith you are a national treasure for your ongoing efforts to dig up the truth behind the blarney. This is too much for me. I literally felt sick in the stomach when I read your article on the land grab by aboriginies that’s been going on unchecked under this Native Title Tribunal. We must find out who are these people on the Native Title Tribunal and what are their exact terms of reference. Are they acting outside of these or are they a Federal body like the Foreign Investment Review Board that have been doing the same thing but handing over our land to foreigners. There’s not going to be much left to flog off given the map published in Keith’s article.

      I would like to see your article read by Pauline Hanson. Surely she is a subscriber to Quadrant Magazine, if not I will gladly pay her online subs.

      This needs to be bought up in parliament in the Lower House where a question on notice can be given by
      a One Nation member ( can’t trust the Libs anymore). Let’s see what malarkey of an answer our exxcuse for a PM gives to the nation. Don’t hold your breath.

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    Didn’t the 1988 “Draft Treaty” also raise the issue of – massive – reparations?

  • Michael says:

    The native title determinations have been flying under the radar for decades. The ‘reconciliation’ agenda to has been cleverly disguised by the proponents when in fact it means recognition of aboriginal sovereignty, native title to most of the country, a special status in the Constitution, and treaties.

  • Biggles says:

    Look on the bright side. When China invades it will only have to liquidate about 400,000 people to take ownership of almost two-thirds of the country!

  • wdr says:

    Let’s hope that Peter Dutton takes account of this. Sadly, Scott Morrison appeared oblivious to all this.

  • Ceres says:

    What a trooper you are Keith in bringing facts to all things to do with aborigines. Pity your “voice” is not widely heard and given some MSM air time. To date I haven’t heard much of the no arguments in the MSM. Jacinta Price and some of the Sky presenters are doing their best and the fact it is a secret ballot where accusations of “you’re a racist” cannot be levelled means I have to hold out hope that it won’t get up. Yes where is Peter Dutton on this? Straddling the fence?

  • Adelagado says:

    I had something of a lightbulb moment when discussing ‘The Voice’ and Welcome to Country ceremonies with my 49 year old daughter. She is quite OK with WTC ceremonies and finds them quite enjoyable, whereas I find them totally repellent. I suddenly realised this attitudinal gulf is because she doesn’t have the same connection to this land as I do. You see, her mother (my ex wife) is a Pom, and, even though she was born here, my daughter has dual citizenship. To some extent she feels like a relatively recent addition to this continent. (A feeling reinforced by WTC ceremonies). I, on the other hand, am a 4th generation Australian. All my ancestors arrived in the 1840’s so, unlike my daughter, I have absolutely nowhere else to call home. When directed at me a WTC ceremony is actually a message that I have no country at all to call my own. I imagine that all immigrants, and children of immigrants, are going to feel similarly to my daughter so, as these people make up almost 50% of the population, the ‘Yes’ vote for ‘The Voice’ suddenly looks far more probable than I had previously thought possible.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    I have said this before and I’ll say it again, if you haven’t read The Break Up of Australia you are doing yourself a serious disservice. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Firstly it exposes an issue of critical importance to all of us. And secondly it does this in the most accomplished way. Keith’s writing is elegant and persuasive. It is a joy to read.

  • RobyH says:

    Life expectancy pre.contact 30. Life expectancy now 72 … in 100 years how things have changed within WA and NT. Still below Australian population but they do not live in the Australian world.

    We (as in the Australian people’s) have stopped the deaths of unwanted infants and elderly and infirmed people. Imagine how the gap could or would have closed if the Aboriignal (whatever that is) had chosen to participate in the benefits of western civilisation envisaged since first contact. The TSI people understand how lucky they are to be Australian and not tribal and poverty bound people of PNG.

  • Daffy says:

    Reparations: a fine on those who’ve done no wrong to benefit those who’ve suffered no loss. The mendacity of the left knows now bounds. But we already knew that.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Thanks Keith for once again clearly laying out what we are facing from these radical extremists, in a manner that should resonate and be understood by even the dimmist wit. For anyone who has read a little of Marx this is front and centre it in my mind….with just the changing of a few words eg aboriginal for proletariat etc. I also have read The Break Up Of Australia and concur with Peter OBrien and should add that Keith’s earlier book, The Killing Of History in 1996 sets the scene in the clearest, fullest way, once again for even the dimmist wit…..other of course than those deaf ones……. who refuse to hear.

  • Brian Boru says:

    I have made this comment on another article; “The coalition is just not able, not capable, in getting the ball, let alone kicking it. They have painted themselves into a populist inclined corner instead of doing the hard yards of policy development.”
    It will be the same in this area of policy.
    I can only hope that Tony Thomas will badger the ABC into giving equal time to the “No” campaign.

  • john.singer says:

    The Commonwealth Government failed to recognise or act on its duties in the Mabo case, the Court then over-reached and the next Commonwealth Government enshrined the over-reach. We have been ill-served.

  • IainC says:

    I’m confused. Is this a percentage of ALL land area – Crown land, State owned/controlled land, AND private property/leaseholds/farmlands – or a percentage of the first two?

  • Keith Windschuttle says:

    To IanC,
    The figures of 49.3 per cent of Australia now determined to be native title, plus 13.4 per cent claimed but still to be determined, and the 37.3 per cent that is not native title (or not yet), all come from the National Native Title Tribunal. They are percentages of all the land —privately owned, state owned, leased or whatever — in the continent of Australia plus Tasmania and the offshore islands. The percentages listed for state and territory land now under native title, or claimed to be, are also for all the lands of all categories under those governments. The tribunal lists its sources as the departments of lands of all states and territories.

  • Winston Smith says:

    This will not end well.
    Under the terms of unpublished Barunga Treaty, there will be a lot of people who will have to pay a second mortgage on their homes or be evicted.
    Of course if I’m wrong, I’d like to be corrected with the facts…

  • pmprociv says:

    Thanks yet again, Keith, for a most lucid account of the state of play. Your book (indeed all of your books), should be essential reading for all our politicians, but I doubt many (any?) of them have the required attention spans, let alone intellectual capacity, to absorb the essential messages. At least this brief and clear update should be readily digestible by some of them.
    My worry is that, on our 25 acres of degraded pastureland that my wife and I have spent 15 years restoring to rainforest, our growing wallaby population might be viewed as bush tucker by the traditional Jinibara “custodians”. I also can’t help noting that all our capital cities occupy sites once the stamping grounds of the largest and most dense Aboriginal populations; this guarantees a robust future for our legal fraternity. No doubt, “The Voice” will have a big and prolonged say on this matter; it will be a huge investment, promising lucrative rents in perpetuity for the self-chosen few (again, more jobs for the lawyers).

  • NarelleG says:

    @Keith Windschuttle

    Please can you advise.
    More land has been given to the aborigines at Nambucca Heads NSW.
    Under the phrase ‘joint management with National Parks.

    For me this is just a cover-up.
    The Gumbayngirr have been very active – with green activists – using the aborigine flag and name – to boycott and cause untold issues for loggers in an endeavour to close the forests and establish the Great Koala National Park.

    We had a particularly active time in 2020 with the Nambucca Forest where they conducted a ‘sit-in/campout’ for 6 weeks – tying up our police service to ensure no one was injured as the logging trucks entered and left the forestry coupe.

    Today I see more national park has been given – under ‘joint management’.
    My question is –
    Is this land then included in the statistics?
    Looking forward to your reply.
    “Gaagal Wanggaan National Park is expanding to include Bald Hill, adding to its rich cultural and ceremonial landscape.
    The Gaagal Wanggaan Board acquired this culturally significant area, which includes a tribal ceremonial ground, a men’s ceremonial site and riverine middens on behalf of the Gumbaynggirr people to add to the jointly managed national park.
    Home to many threatened species like the endangered Floyd’s grass and black grass-dart butterfly, found only on the mid-north coast of NSW, this expansion is another step towards protecting biodiversity and conserving important Aboriginal cultural sites.
    This 212-hectare expansion builds on the 600,000 hectares already secured by the NSW Government to increase the national park estate since 2019.

    Read more about Aboriginal joint management of NSW National Parks at:

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    Adelagado (5/8)–
    Making an assumption about the attitude of an entire group based on the attitude of just one person is hardly fair or logical. I can tell you that both my parents and I, who were born in the U.S., and my sister, who was born here in WA (therefore, immigrants and the child of immigrants) are disgusted with “Welcome to Country” and all such racist nonsense. I also know other American immigrants, who have not lived here nearly as long as we have, who hate this stuff. Plenty of multi-generation Australians, on the other hand, think that this nonsense is fine and dandy.
    It may well be that immigrants are more likely to agree with this drivel than multi-generation Australians; but it is scarcely “all immigrants, and children of immigrants.”

  • Keith Windschuttle says:

    Sorry NarelleG, I don’t know the answer to your question. But you can try searching through the Native Title Register which gives information about specific localities. It is here: http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/Search-National-Native-Title-Register.aspx.

  • Michael Waugh says:

    Could I add my thanks Keith for your skill and energy in bringing these facts to our attention. But I am not sure what it means when you speak of land “belonging” to Aboriginal people. I have not read Mabo or Wik recently, but my recollection is that the “interests” or “rights” traditional owners have over Crown land where those traditional “interests” have not been extinguished are of much lesser moment than , say, my fee simple rights over land registered in my name under Torrens Title legislation. For example, traditional owners may have rights to hunt or gather food or to fish, but those rights are subject to other land use like mining or grazing stock. Privately owned land in the cities , towns, and villages of Australia by definition extinguished any native title. The same applies to farms and cattle stations, subject to the peculiarly Australian concept of pastoral leases, those vast areas of semi-arid land leased to cattle stations to run cattle (and where you need a helicopter to find your stock) and where traditional owners are still permitted to hunt because their traditional interests can co-exist with the cattle station. This area of native title is difficult and I am grateful for your insights, but I think we need to be careful to be entirely accurate and fair about it.
    And Rebekah Meredith, I’m hoping that the more recent immigrants to Australia will be less prone to be taken in by the “guilt-trip” propaganda of the left activists.

  • NarelleG says:

    Thank you very much.

  • Rotorjoe says:

    Every genuinely Sovereign Nation is responsible for providing essential services to its citizens ( security, health,education, welfare etc.,) and funding those services by taxing it’s citizens and their enterprises.Will the supporters of the proposed Sovereign Nations concept accept that principal?

  • Tricone says:

    Who, exactly – naming names – is benefitting from this?
    Who, exactly, is getting what, exactly?
    1. In money
    2. In kind?
    Let’s end the vague waffle about “the (whoever) people” and have some individuals’ names and amounts.
    It’s time to personalise this.

  • Ceres says:

    Update: Great to see you on the Bolt Report tonight Keith (9/8) speaking with Andrew about the above map and the 50% land virtually vested in aborigines, whoever they might be.
    Such a pity this sort of factual information isn’t widely dispersed as it could well influence the upcoming vote, but we know this doesn’t fit the deprived indigenous narrative which is the government/msm mantra.

  • Suburban Boy says:

    Keith, Unless I am mistaken the 62.7 per cent figure does not include land granted under various land rights Acts. The major part of these would be a huge swathe of the NT and a chunk of north-western SA, both included in the pale yellow portions on the map.

    On my calculations this land would be a further 10 per cent (more or less) of the Australian land mass, and if my assumption is correct, the total amount under some sort of Aboriginal ownership would then be 73 per cent rather than 63 per cent, leaving just 27 per cent for non-Aboriginal Australians.

  • Keith Windschuttle says:

    Hello Suburban Boy,
    Yes, I think your assumptions and calculations are close to the mark. There were various land rights acts in the 1970s by the Commonwealth government and some of the states, long before the Native Title Act of 1993. I presume the map by the Native Title Tribunal is a record of its own deliberations and acceptances rather than a complete record of all land transferred to Aboriginal people. Also, in some states like Tasmania and New South Wales, the government simply purchased private holdings in rural areas and gave them to Aboriginal Land Councils. It is also worth having a close look at the tribunal’s map where it shows in dark green colour exclusive ownership of a number of coastal strips, such as on the east and west coasts of Cape York, a fair bit of the Gulf of Carpentaria and a lot of the Kimberley district in WA. Having exclusive rights to these coastal strips gives their owners effective control over what happens in the hinterlands behind them as well.

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