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The Hungry Miles (1955)

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clip 'Industrial storm clouds'

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

As men work, narrator Leonard George Teale says 'industrial storm clouds hover on the waterfront’. Newspaper headlines and cartoons depict waterside workers as lazy and prone to striking. At Parliament House in Canberra, a Bill is passed. Shipping interests have lobbied the government to pass legislation that deprives waterside workers of their hard-won conditions. In a dramatised sequence, rank and file union members respond to the changes by raising their hands in a vote of solidarity to walk off the job. To understand the wharfies’ actions, the narrator says we must understand the background of the industry and the 'bitter memories of the men who worked the waterfront’s hungry miles’.

Curator’s notes

The Hungry Miles is structured in distinct sections. Shots of halting machinery and individual workers putting down their gear and filing off the docks re-create a scenario that was familiar to many of the wharfie extras. This scene – the call to stop work – is placed in its historical context in clip two which recreates some of the harsh conditions experienced by the poor and unemployed in 1930s Sydney.

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