• Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove makes a speech at the foot of Eddie Mabo's grave on Murray Island (Mer) in the Torres Strait. (Aaron Smith, Silva Smith Group)Source: Aaron Smith, Silva Smith Group
The Governor-General says honouring land rights pioneer Eddie Koiki Mabo by visiting his grave is 'a necessary journey' for Australian leaders.
NITV Staff Writer

17 Aug 2018 - 5:01 PM  UPDATED 17 Aug 2018 - 5:05 PM

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, alongside Lady Cosgrove, laid wreaths at the grave on Murray Island (Mer) during a three-day visit to the Torres Strait last week - and suggested other leaders do the same. 

"Eddie Mabo inspires us all," said Sir Peter Cosgrove in a speech to the Meriam people. 

"He lies here for eternity, but his memory and his example will be an example to all Australians, First Australians and the rest of us, for time into the future, so it’s a privilege for Lyn and I to be here.

"We follow in the footsteps of prime ministers, previous governors-general.

"Let it be said, it might become – perhaps should become – a rite of passage, a necessary journey by every future prime minister, by every future governor-general."

Tony Abbott became the first and only prime minister to visit the grave in 2015.  

Eddie Mabo spearheaded the push to legally recognise the ongoing land rights of the Meriam Traditional Owners of Murray Island. He didn't live to see the landmark high court verdict in 1992, which overturned the legal fiction of terra nullius and paved the way for native title. 

Sir Peter Cosgrove hailed the activist as a great man who "changed the modern history of Australia in a very, very important way". 

He met with Torres Strait Islander leaders on five islands during last week's trip, discussing key issues such as health, constitutional recognition and border security. 

He is the first governor-general to visit the region since Dame Quentin Bryce in 2014. 

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