It is with considerable trepidation that I give this lecture. The topic is not just complex and immense, but it has been so taken over by the media and so politicised by so many varying and vested interests, that any objective discussion that satisfies everyone will be impossible. In the light of this, I decided to present a personal view based on past study and fieldwork.
I have been rather nervous about giving this lecture knowing that many reading would be better versed in the complexities of the issues than I am. But in preparing it I remembered the Academy symposium of 1981 when, as a relatively new Fellow, I chaired a session on Aboriginal land rights. What I remember most was sitting on the platform between Charles Perkins on one side and Hugh Morgan on the other and trying to keep some focus and calm discussion. So let me begin.