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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 16 No 2 (1998)

Waltzing Matilda: A Semiotic Reading of Wik

Kieran Tranter

Drawing upon the work of Peter Goodrich, this article undertakes a semiotic reading of Justice Michael Kirbyís judgment in the High Courtís decision in Wik Peoples v Queensland (1996). It attempts to read the judgment from within the common law tradition. What is revealed is a way of travelling and a symbolic order removed from the established symbols of Australian colonialism. The common law declares itself sovereign. In exploring a way across the post-Mabo legal landscape it institutes a new colonialism, mapping and subjugating the old colonial order.

(1999) 16(2) Law in Context 49

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