Now a special A.B.C. news team reports on the turn of events in Mt. Isa?
Now a special A.B.C. news team reports on the turn of events in Mt. Isa yesterday - a day of dramatic developments. Early in the morning, the team arrived at the Mt. Isa mine to record the numbers of men - if any - who turned up for work in answer to the Company's ultimatum. But at the appointed deadline, when only precious few workers arrived, it looked as if the mine could close completely, throwing another 7000 out of work.
Police were on hand to stop picketers and prevent demonstrations. But things went quietly. It seemed to indicate the mineworkers' contempt for the demands of both the company & the Government.
Meanwhile, the township itself was showing definite symptoms of bad times. On the main road out, more miners were leaving their troubles behind. Since last August when the dispute began, scores of the 1,500 miners out of work have declined to get out.
There are other signs, too: fewer people swimming in the town pool; fewer people enjoying themselves; fewer people spending big - the sign of the boom town. The taxi drivers have firm opinions about the dispute.
Even in the pubs, the story is much the same. A.B.C. reporter Curt Laughlin began talking with a publican about the situation, but the interview was to be interrupted dramatically.
The interview broke off when Pat Mackie, unofficial leader of the miners, suddenly appeared out of nowhere at the hotel. Mackie's whereabouts had been a mystery for five days after the Queensland Government had banned from Mt. Isa anyone likely to prolong the dispute. As soon as the news became known that the Government had withdrawn its emergency measures, Pat Mackie came out of hiding. The last time he was seen in public as in Sydney five days before while campaigning for funds.
Surrounded by admirers and unofficial advisors, Mackie immediately gave reporters an on-the-spot news conference.
Wearing his now familiar baseball cap, Mackie was shouted beers by his well-wishers. Mackie, 48, was born in New Zealand and has spent several years in Canada. Yesterday's development were regarded by his supporters as a personal victory for Mackie. The supporters want him re-instated at the mine as one of the conditions for settling the dispute.
To end off a long day, the news team recorded the departure for Brisbane of mine officials, including the General Manager, Mr. Foots (in the hat). The officials had decided not to close the mine, and were to arrange conferences to end the dispute.