Jack Mundey became a national figure in the early 1970s when as Secretary of the NSW Branch of the Builders’ Labourers Federation (BLF), he led the union’s famous ‘green bans’. This extraordinary conservation campaign redefined the development of Australia’s major cities by saving iconic heritage areas like The Rocks in Sydney.
The BLF refused to work on developments thought to be destructive of the environment or requiring the demolition of buildings considered part of our social heritage.
Under Jack’s guidance, they joined with local communities to preserve such significant sites as Sydney’s historic Rocks area, Centennial Park, Victoria Street in Kings Cross and the last stretch of public bushland on the Parramatta River.
As a crusading unionist, Jack also fought for safety reforms on building sites and, from the 1960s, helped usher in a new era of union activism for wider social issues, from feminism and gay liberation to land rights and international politics.
Today, at 88, he fights on . . . but who will continue the fight to save our history and heritage?