It was the first day back after a two week Christmas break for the couple of dozen men who worked the Nymboida coal mine in northern NSW.
The shift was coming to an end when an underground gas explosion ripped through the mine at 3pm on 12 January, 1976. Slowly, the men staggered out of the mine, some seriously injured and being helped by others.
A head count was done. One man was missing. It would take hours for the mine rescue service to arrive, and by then it might be too late.
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Going on strike for a week is a big call. It’s never a decision workers take lightly and it happens rarely.
But this week, over 3,500 coal mine workers from seven central Queensland mines operated by BHP have made that call.
The week-long strike comes after many months of smaller stoppages. But when you’re negotiating with one of the richest companies in the world, it takes something dramatic to get their attention.
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A poll by Roy Morgan Research several days into the Fukushima nuclear crisis found that 61 per cent of Australians oppose the development of nuclear power here, nearly double the 34 per cent level of support. Thus the growth in support for nuclear power over the past five years has been totally erased ... and then some.
While there was undoubtedly growing support for nuclear power until Fukushima, the issue has been the subject of a great deal of hype and spin.
In 2009, for example, a flurry of media reports and commentary followed the release of a Nielsen poll which found that support for nuclear power had risen to 49 per cent and had overtaken the level of opposition.
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