- Bachelor of Laws, University of New South Wales
- Bachelor of Science, University of New South Wales
- Legal Practitioner of Supreme Courts of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory
- Legal Practitioner of High Court of Australia
- Queensland Law Society
- Queensland Environmental Law Association (QELA)
- Australian Mining & Petroleum Lawyers Association
- Property Rights Australia
Michael Neal specialises in native title and cultural heritage law and is the author of the Lexis Nexis Native Title Service’s chapter on Indigenous Land Use Agreements.
For the last 2 years running, Michael was recognised by Chambers Global as a leading lawyer in native title law, the only Queensland lawyer outside Brisbane with that recognition. Chambers states: “sources describe him as ‘a solid and very experienced practitioner’ who is notably proactive and ‘good to deal with’.”
Michael has been recognised by Doyles as the 2017 leading native title lawyer in the country representing traditional owners. Michael is the only regional-based lawyer in this category.
He has provided legal advice to indigenous and commercial parties in relation to the many mining and commercial developments in Cape York and northern Australia generally, since the mid 1980’s.
Michael’s legal career has encompassed a broad spectrum of predominantly native title related law but has also included general litigation, property and commercial law, including:
- Acting for native title applicants, representative bodies, corporations, local governments and the Commonwealth of Australia (Dept of Defence)
- Litigating and negotiating native title determinations and associated agreements, including settling long term land tenure and trust arrangements for Queensland’s only Aboriginal freehold land that includes a large scale mine
- Negotiating and drafting Commonwealth’s first two complex Indigenous Land Use Agreements, and several other ILUAs including the nationally well respected 2004 Argyle Diamond Mine ILUA;
- Negotiations for trustees of Deed of Grant in Trust land and native title parties for several proposed new bauxite mines in north west Cape York Peninsula
- Negotiations on behalf of the native title party for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Cultural Heritage Management Agreement for the State’s first major coal related railway, including considerations of acquisition of land and native title
- Advice and representation of Aboriginal Shire Councils in Cape York Peninsula generally, and particularly in relation to mining, leasing, native title and property matters
- Negotiated numerous mining agreements in Queensland and the Northern Territory
- Acting for the applicants in Australia’s first determination of native title over pastoral lands
- Established and headed the legal section of the Cape York Land Council
- Acted as solicitor for the claimants in Birthday Mountain, Lakefield National Park, Cliff Islands National Park, Iron Range National Park and Wuthathi 10 Islands land claims
- Established initial strategic plan for acquisition of land via native title, Aboriginal Land Act and purchase of land in Cape York Peninsula
- Acted for Jawoyn People in 1993 in Australia’s first post Mabo mining agreement for the Mt Todd gold mine, including joint venture for contract mining
- Acted for Jawoyn People in joint venture mining and tourism ventures, including purchase of boat tours business at Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge), and review of Plans of Management for both Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks.
Adam Stephen from ABC Radio – Cairns recently interviewed Michael Neal in relation to the following topics:
- The ‘‘Process for Native Title’; an
- The Australian Law Reform Commissioner’s ‘Discussion Paper’.