The four-to-three split decision giving Aboriginal Australians special status is a major defeat for the deportation powers of the home affairs department

The high court has decided that Aboriginal Australians are not aliens for the purpose of the constitution, a major defeat for the deportation powers of Peter Dutton’s home affairs department and a significant development in the rights of Indigenous Australians.

In a four-to-three split decision on Tuesday the high court ruled that Aboriginal people with sufficient connection to traditional societies cannot be aliens, giving them a special status in Australian constitutional law likely to have ramifications far beyond existing native title law.

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