In 1996 the High Court found that native title could only be extinguished by a law or an act of the Government which shows clear and plain intention to extinguish native title and thus pastoral leases granted in Queensland did not extinguish title.

In 1996 the High Court made another important decision in the Wik case which relates to a claim of native title on land that included pastoral leases granted by the Queensland Government. The High Court said that native title can only be extinguished by a law or an act of the Government which shows clear and plain intention to extinguish native title. The laws creating pastoral leases in Queensland did not reveal an intention to extinguish title.

The Court found that Queensland pastoral leases had been created to meet the needs of the emerging pastoral industry. The rights and interests of a pastoral leaseholder had to be determined by looking at the relevant statute and at the lease itself. This process showed that the leases in question did not give the leaseholders a right to exclusive possession of the land. Therefore, the granting of a pastoral lease did not necessarily extinguish native title. Native title could exist with the rights of the leaseholder.

However, where there is a conflict in the exercise of those rights, native title rights were subordinate to those of the pastoral leaseholder. The rights of pastoralists prevail over any rights of the native title holders.

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