Ngarrindjeri people asked to clarify 'Letters Patent' legal case

SEE ALSO: South Australia - Treaty Proposal - This Site

ABC News June 30th 2010

About Letters Patent?

Letters Patent

Letters patent
Latin: litterae patentes

Letters Patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of an open letter issued by a monarch or government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or to some entity such as a corporation. The opposite of letters patent are letters close (Latin: litterae clausae), which are personal in nature and sealed so that only the recipient can read their contents. Letters patent can be used for the creation of corporations or government offices, or for the granting of city status or a coats of arms. A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention.

In the United Kingdom and countries formerly under that country's influence, letters patent are issued under the prerogative powers of the head of state ("royal prerogative"). They constitute a rare, if significant, form of legislation without the consent of the parliament. Letters patent may also be used to grant assent to legislation.

In the United States, the forgery of letters patent granted by the President is a crime subject to fine and/or imprisonment up to ten years (18 U.S.C. § 497). Without letters patent, a person is unable to assume an appointed office. Such an issue prompted the Marbury v. Madison suit, where William Marbury and three others petitioned the United States Supreme Court to order James Madison to deliver their letters for appointments made under the previous administration.
Source: Wikipedia
Letters Patent Transcript pdf
Letters Patent, Govt Gaz. pdf
Gov't Order in Council pdf

The Ngarrindjeri people have been asked by the South Australian Government for a clearer idea of what they see as the legal consequences for SA from what is known as the Letters Patent of 1836.

It established South Australia and its boundaries and includes a guarantee of some lands rights for Indigenous people and their descendants.

Ngarrindjeri people recently met the Premier for talks about the Letters Patent.

SA Attorney General John Rau has told State Parliament the Government has asked the Ngarrindjeri people to clarify what they are seeking.

"Providing particulars of the precise legal nature of their assertions regarding the Letters Patent of 1836, particulars of any or all consequences which they believe may flow there from. I am hopeful that upon receipt of such a formulation, the Government will be able to more quickly, fairly and accurately respond to the questions raised," he said.


Ngarrindjeri people want SA Premier to set up a negotiation process to resolve predecessor land title rights

David Nason The Australian June 18, 2010

Aboriginal leaders in South Australia will present Premier Mike Rann with a traditional red ochre boomerang when they meet today to discuss provocative legal questions surrounding the state's founding document, the 1836 Letters Patent signed by King George IV.

The ceremonial boomerang, used in Ngarrindjeri governance rituals by the Rupelle of the Tendi, or chief leader, is the marker of a peaceful meeting and is meant to convey the good faith of Aboriginal people for talks that may open a new front in the indigenous fight for land and social justice.

Not by accident. the boomerang also invokes the powerful historical symbolism of the Yolgnu bark petition sent to federal parliament in 1963 and the Barunga statement presented to former prime minister Bob Hawke in 1988.

The bark petition marked the birth of the modern land rights movement while the Barunga statement, originally a call for a national land rights model, gave rise to the reconciliation process.

The Ngarrindjeri want Mr Rann to set up a negotiation process to resolve claims that South Australian Aborigines retain predecessor land title rights over large parts of the state, including areas such as greater Adelaide, where native title rights are deemed extinguished.

The claims are the result of 10 years' research into the Letters Patent and other South Australian founding documents by Adelaide lawyer Sean Berg.

His conclusion is that South Australia's colonists ignored specific legal requirements to acquire land from Aborigines through treaties and bargains. These instructions, unique to South Australia's settlement, conferred certain legal rights to Aborigines which Mr Berg says still survive.

Mr Berg will accompany the 14-member Ngarrindjeri delegation at today's talks. Also present will be the state Attorney-General, John Rau, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Grace Portolesi and the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, Klynton Wanganeen.

The Ngarrindjeri delegation intends to tell Mr Rann a process of consultation to achieve a just settlement is a better solution than the state simply paying financial compensation.

If they receive a negative response they could resort to litigation and appeals to international tribunals.

Ngarrindjeri academic Daryle Rigney has said the aim of any negotiation process with the state government should be a proper recognition of Aboriginal predecessor title in South Australia.


SA Premier Rann has agreed to conduct talks on land title

David Nason The Australian May 27, 2010

Major Sumner of the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal people performs a smoking ceremony in Edinburgh, Scotland, before the six skulls and a woman's ear bone left for Australia in 2008.
(Reuters: David Moir)

Premier Mike Rann has agreed to meet with Ngarrindjeri leaders over issues of "unfinished business" arising from South Australia's founding document, the 1836 Letters Patent signed by King George IV.

The move follows a request for formal talks at a "nation to nation" meeting between state cabinet ministers and Aboriginal leaders on Monday.

The Ngarrindjeri, South Australia's most activist Aboriginal group, want Mr Rann to set up a process to resolve claims that Aborigines retain predecessor land title to large swaths of South Australia, including Adelaide.

The claims are the result of detailed research into South Australia's settlement by Adelaide commercial lawyer Shaun Berg.

He believes colonial documents he unearthed over 10 years of research prove that South Australia's Aborigines were illegally dispossessed by the colonists, who ignored specific orders to acquire land through treaties and bargains with the indigenous occupants.

Those requirements, unique to South Australia's colonisation, confer certain legal rights which still survive, according to Mr Berg.

A spokesman for Mr Rann said he would be "very happy" to meet with the Ngarrindjeri leaders when he returns from an overseas trip next month.

But this did not mean Mr Rann accepted Mr Berg's analysis of the Letters Patent issue, she said.

Mr Berg last week detailed his findings in the Eliott Johnston memorial lecture, but failed to win over Attorney-General John Rau, who was in the audience.

"I have not sought advice in relation to Mr Berg's remarks and, at present, do not see the need to do so," Mr Rau said yesterday.

Ngarrindjeri academic Daryle Rigney has said the aim of any negotiation process with the state government should be a proper recognition of Aboriginal predecessor title in South Australia and the building of core capacity in Aboriginal communities.