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Tuesday, 5 July 1949

Mr DUTHIE (WILMOT, TASMANIA) - In view of the fact that only one-third of the miners voted in favour of the strike, and that certain lodges seem anxious to organize opposition to its continuance, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government can guarantee protection to all those miners who would come out into the open against their leaders but for fear of victimization ? Can the Government do anything to allay the real fear of those rank and file miners, numbering two-thirds of the total, who did not attend the aggregate meetings?

Mr CHIFLEY - The State police force, acting under the laws of the State, will ensure that no one is intimidated to the point of physical violence. The police are the only ones who can ensure the maintenance of law and order. As for the general question of those who, because of fear of intimidation, voted at the aggregate meetings in support of the strike, or refrained from attending the meetings, it seems ito me that the matter has gone beyond such consideration!! From ira.y knowledge of the coalminers I should say that, once a decision .has been taken by the federation, it will receive the almost unanimous support of the men or, at any rate, of a very large proportion of them. I have tried to be as tolerant as possible, and to indicate to the miners that they cannot by any threat enforce their demands. Whatever their grievances are - and I am not' now debating the merits of their claims - they must be dealt with by the properly constituted authority. I do not think that anything can be done, except to await a move by the miners themselves, within their own ranks, to reverse their former decision. By that, I mean a move by the miners as a body. My experience of the miners is that they cannot be moved by screeching speeches, but that they can be moved by reason and logic to have some consideration for the people of the country to which .they belong.

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