Mr Graeme John Neate AM

BA '77, LLB (Hons) '79

Mr Graeme Neate was appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours, for his significant service to the law as a leading contributor to Indigenous land rights, and to legal education. Currently the Commissioner, Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (since 2014), Mr Neate is remembered and honoured for his 17 years of leadership and service to National Native Title Tribunal, including the presidency (1999-2013), and membership activities (1995-1999).

His career highlights also include: Inaugural Chairperson, Land Tribunals (1992-2001); and Memberships of the Land Court of Queensland and Land Appeal Court of Queensland (1992-2000); the Taxation of Native Title and Traditional Owner Benefits and Governance Working Group; and, the Advisory Committee, Australian Law Reform Commission.

Mr Neate is author of the Aboriginal Land Rights Law in the Northern Territory (1989).

Mr Neate has also held roles as the Principal Legal Officer, Constitutional Commission (1986-1988); an Associate Principal Research Officer Legal and Counsel Assisting, Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Commissioner (1980-1982); and a Director, Legal Advising Section, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and employee (1982-1986).

Mr Neate was involved with the establishment of the Indigenous Law Program and the Indigenous Law Centre (Research and Study facilities), at the University of New South Wales.

He is author of numerous published articles, book chapters and conference papers relating to Aboriginal land rights, native title and cultural heritage issues.

In 2013, Mr Neate reflected on 17 years of Native Title Act achievements and trends, saying that 'it has been rewarding to be part of a system that is maturing and which contributes to the process of reconciliation among all Australians.

 "There are now 222 registered determinations of native title," said Mr Neate, 'which cover approximately 20 per cent of the land mass of Australia as well as large areas of sea, particularly in northern Australia."

"Most of the determinations that native title exist [174 of the 222] have been made by the consent of the parties, without long, expensive and unpredictable litigation," Mr Neate said.

There are also 737 registered Indigenous land use agreements, covering about 23 per cent of the Australian land mass. Mr Neate observed that these statistics demonstrate the significant trend to negotiating native title outcomes rather than litigating them.  "The days of widespread fear, apprehension, disdain and disregard of native title have passed."

"Today native title is a generally accepted part of the legal and social landscape of Australia, contributing to the process of reconciliation."

Mr Neate gained a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology from ANU in 1977, followed by a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) in 1979.

After his honours degree he served as an associate for the Hon Mr. Justice McGregor (Canberra) and for the Hon Justice Toohey (Darwin), before entering the Australian Public Service in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. He was awarded a Centenary Medal for service (2003) for his presidency of the NNAT.

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