Tolpuddle Martyrs: Injustice within the Law

 
9781920899493: Tolpuddle Martyrs: Injustice within the Law
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The legend of the six rural labourers (the Tolpuddle Martyrs) who were transported to Australia in 1834 for swearing an oath of solidarity is celebrated as the foundation of the modern trade union movement. In his introduction to this new edition of Herbert ('Doc') Evatt's brilliant account, Geoffrey Robertson points out that the case stood for something different, and something very frightening: that oppression and cruelty do not always fail. Indeed, they sometimes succeed beyond the hopes of the oppressors. The labourers suffered no violence 'save the extreme and horrible violence of the law itself'. The true lesson from the story demonstrates that societies need guarantees to prevent 'injustice within the law'. The Tolpuddle Martyrs inspired Doc Evatt's support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Robertson argues that it should inspire the Rudd Labor government to legislate for a bill of rights in Australia today.

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H.D. Evatt (1894-1965) was a distinguished advocate, the author of several books on Australian history, a patron of the arts and a Labor member of the NSW (1925-1930) and Commonwealth (1940-1958) parliaments. He was leader of the Opposition from 1951-1960, and Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court from 1960 to 1962. He is most remembered for initiating Australia's first independent foreign policy and for his role in the conference that created the United Nations in 1945.

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