Australian PM visits Aborigine leader's grave

Australian PM Tony Abbott pays his respects to Eddie Mabo’s grave in Merray Island in Torres Strait

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Aug 26, 2015

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott started his annual trip and visited Eddie Mabo’s final home in Torres Strait in the island of Merray, becoming the first prime minister to visit Mabo’s grave.

The prime minister had previously stated that he will visit the indigenous communities every year, where he will spend a week of his scheduled trip.

Accompanied by one of Mabo’s daughters Gail, Abbott stressed that he will discuss the education issue, along with the health and  border security on the island.

Gail said that her father fought hard over the rights of the indigenous on the island. Abbott commenting on the same issue, said that Mabo was a strong man.

"This was a warrior, not simply a strong man physically, but a strong man culturally and spiritually, who decided that he would take on the legal establishment."

"He would take on the previously settled view of Australian law, and good on him for having a go, and ultimately good on our system for being able to accommodate Eddie Mabo and the other plaintiffs' cry for justice."

Eddie Mabo, originally from Torres Strait Islands, fought a 10 year battle on the land ownership in Australia but he was vindicated after his death in January 1992.

Before he managed to win the battle, the High Court had rejected his requests. But ever since the law was passed, Australian's can apply to obtain their land as the country was terra nullius - “nobody’s land."

During his visit Abbott also said that the island was “a special place.”

"It's a special place, and while this was very contentious two decades back, I think it's now something that has been absolutely accepted by all Australians and a sign of the fundamental justice in Australian society that we not only recognise the native title but we appreciate the fact that Indigenous people have rights to their land," he said.

"You only have to look around these communities to see that these people are house proud, to see that people obviously have an enormous amount of self-respect, and this is, I think, something that we should note.”

"We all know that there is high levels of dysfunction in some remote places but when it comes to things like sending the kids to school, trying to ensure that there is a strong sense of community spirit and community pride, the people of the Torres Strait really are an exemplar,” Abbott added.

The prime minister will soon be joined by the Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge, secretary of the Department of Prime Minister as well as Cabinet Michael Thawley.

TRTWorld and agencies