Jack Mundey

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Jack Mundey (born 17 October 1929 in Malanda, Queensland[1]) is an Australian union and environmental activist. He came to prominence during the 1970s for leading the New South Wales Builders' Labourers Federation (BLF) in the famous Green Bans, whereby the BLF led a successful campaign to protect the built and natural environment of Sydney from excessive and inappropriate development. Mundey is now Chair of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.

Early years[edit]

Mundey was born on 17 October 1929 in Malanda 100 km west of Cairns on the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland and was one of five children. His mother died when he was six. He was educated at Malanda Primary School and St Augustine's, Cairns, from which he ran away because of its "authoritarian methods" of discipline.[citation needed] Mundey moved to Sydney when he was 19, and became a metalworker and later a builder's labourer, joining successively the Federated Ironworkers' Association and the Builders Labourers Federation. He also played rugby league for Parramatta under Vic Hey for three years.[2] He joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1957.[citation needed]

Also in 1957 Jack married Stephanie and had a son, Michael. When Michael was 15 months old, Stephanie died of a cerebral tumour. [3]

During the 1960s Mundey was a crusading unionist, and an advocate on a wide range of issues, from safety reforms on building sites to wider issues such as feminism, gay rights and international politics. Mundey considered all these matters appropriate targets for union activism. His second wife, Judy, joined him in these campaigns and later rose to become national president of the CPA.[citation needed]

The Green Bans[edit]

In 1968, Mundey was elected secretary of the NSW Builders' Labourers Federation (BLF). From this position, Mundey became the highly visible individual who, with his union and supportive community members, was responsible for the green bans that saved much of Sydney's heritage and built environment. He insisted that the priorities of development be reversed such that the open community spaces and heritage buildings be preserved and that affordable public housing was more important than accumulating empty or underused commercial buildings.[citation needed]

In 1975 Mundey and other NSW leaders of the BLF were expelled from the union by the federal leadership under Norm Gallagher, who was later to be convicted of corrupt dealings with developers (but subsequently overturned on appeal).[citation needed]

A plaque in Annandale commemorating the work of Mundey and the union


Mundey was the lead Legislative Council candidate of the Communist Party at the 1978 New South Wales state election. Benefiting from the donkey vote, his party polled almost 80,000 votes – 2.9 percent of the statewide total – and outpolled the Australian Democrats. Mundey came close to winning a seat, and was the last candidate excluded from the count.[4]

Munday was elected to the City of Sydney council in 1984, ending his term in 1987.[5]

Later life[edit]

In April 1979, Mundey began an affair with Jennie George, which continued for some months. Her husband Paddy George moved out of the marital home after the affair came to light, but returned in November 1979 when he became ill with cancer. Jennie put her relationship with Mundey on hold to care for Paddy, until his death in June 1980. Mundey continued to provide support for her, but when he ultimately chose not to leave his wife, she terminated their relationship.[6]

In 1977, his only son Michael was killed in a car accident.[7]

Mundey's autobiography Green Bans and Beyond was published in 1981.

1981 The Gateway site - Circular Quay Landing Site of the First Fleet, where Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Flag on the first Australia Day (26 January 1788) Major Submission To Sydney City Council for The Gateway Site by the Quayhole Committee, Paul Johnson and Tony Rodi. The Gateway proposal which relocated development off the site, which would be restored to a naturalistic shoreline with original Tank Stream inlet in a Memorial Park. There it was proposed to enact a treaty between the Aboriginal people and the Australian Government. Supporters. Jack Mundey Chairman of the Planning committee from May 1984 to September 1985. Peter Collins New South Wales State opposition leader of the Liberal Party, opposing Labor Premier Neville Wran, and Bob Carr, Minister for Planning and Environment. The site is presently occupied by a 44 storey tower built by the Hooker Corporation.

Jack Mundey was an Alderman on Sydney council for one term from 1984-87. [8] In 1988 the University of Western Sydney bestowed an honorary Doctor of Letters and also an honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of Mundey's years of service to the environment for the last 30 years.[citation needed]

Mundey was made a Life Member of the Australian Conservation Foundation in the 1990s. In 1995, in keeping with his continued deep interest in Sydney and the state's urban environment and heritage, he was appointed Chair of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales,[citation needed] and he is also the Patron of the Historic Houses Association of Australia.[9]

In February 2007, the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales renamed a portion of Argyle Street in The Rocks "Jack Mundey Place" in recognition of his leadership "in the fight to preserve such significant sites in the historic Rocks area."[10]

Mundey continues to act in development issues. In 2014 he was named Patron of the Friends of Millers Point as he joins the fight to save the Sirius apartments which were built for the people of The Rocks when the Green Bans saved them from eviction and The Rocks from demolition forty years ago.[11] In 2012, he joined the action to preserve Windsor Bridge from further development.[12]


  1. ^ Toby Creswell and Samantha Trenoweth (2006). 1001 Australians You Should Know. Australia: Pluto Press. p. 555. ISBN 978-1-86403-361-8. ISBN 1-86403-361-4.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Michael Hogan & David Clune (eds.) (2001). The People's Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales / Volume Three: 1968–1999. Parliament of New South Wales. p. 175.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Jack Mundey". SYDNEY'S ALDERMEN. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  6. ^ Brad Norington, "Unions of the Heart", Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, 7 November 1998, p. 7s
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ [4]
  9. ^ "HHA Governance". Historic Houses Association of Australia. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^ Machado, Lawrence (31 July 2012). "Eureka! The fight to save Windsor Bridge heats up". Rouse Hill Times. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  • Jack Mundey Green Bans and Beyond (1981)

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