Veteran unionist and environmentalist Jack Mundey, who campaigned to protect some of Sydney’s most famous areas from development, has died aged 90.
Mr Mundey rose to prominence in the 1970s for his leadership of the Builders Labourers Federation, which was famous for its green bans and credited with stopping several developments at The Rocks.
He died late on Sunday, and is survived by his wife Judy.
Even in his final years, Mr Mundey continued to fight against development, and campaigned to protect historic sites in Sydney, including the Sirius building.
Through his work in the BLF, Mr Mundey was credited with preserving working-class communities and historic buildings in areas such as Woolloomooloo, Potts Point and The Rocks.
As developers circled these inner-city areas, even proposing a freeway through Glebe and an Olympic Stadium in Centennial Park, Mr Mundey launched a fierce fight to protect green space and history.
During the green bans Mr Mundey organised, builders refused to work on projects they perceived to be environmentally or socially undesirable.
“In the main the people stood firm and the idea that we should have a people’s plan for The Rocks, keep it essentially low-rise, with people having a right to live there and not be all driven out of the city and that there should be some place for working-class people to live in the inner-city area,” Mr Mundey said in a recent interview with the NSW Department of Housing.
Former Labor MP and green bans activist Meredith Burgmann paid tribute to her friend on Monday morning, describing him as the “father of urban environmentalism” in Australia.
“I see him as … a very very important figure in the environment movement, but he I think would always have seen himself as a trade unionist … first and foremost.”
Fellow unionist and national secretary of the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union Dave Noonan also paid tribute to “a great man.”
“Any Sydneysider or anyone visiting Sydney that walks through the Rocks, that sees Centennial Park, that sees any of the glorious parts of Sydney that were saved by the green bans, ought to be thinking about Jack,” he said.
After Mr Mundey was expelled from the union in 1975, he unsuccessfully ran for state politics as a member for the Communist Party.
Later he went to serve on the City of Sydney Council from 1984-1987.
He also worked with the Australian Conservation Foundation for more than a decade and was the chair of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW.