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 Paolo Hooke

June 16, 2011

In 1971 a group of women in the leafy northern Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill were battling to protect a piece of urban bushland, Kelly’s Bush.

They had exhausted all available avenues and as a last resort turned to the unions for help. The NSW branch of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF), led by secretary Jack Mundey, came on board. He vowed the union’s members would not be used to destroy the city’s environment and heritage.

 Thursday marked the 40th anniversary to the day of the placing of the first ‘Green Ban’ on June 16, 1971.

Speaking at an anniversary celebration at NSW Parliament House hosted by Greens MLC David Shoebridge, Mr Mundey, now 81, said the Green Bans movement was still respected. “To think that casual union building labourers can be remembered 40 years on is very important,” he told reporters. “It brought together workers, it brought together women.”

Reflecting on the early 1970s and the women’s liberation movement, as well as the opponents of the war in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa, Mr Mundey said it was a time of great change and the unity of the left was a decisive factor.

Mr Mundey, who was accompanied by fellow Green Bans veterans Darcy Duggan and Mick Tubbs, said there was no reason why similar bans couldn’t occur today. “There’s no reason why they couldn’t happen (now) provided the will is there,” he said. “I do believe that it is possible to arouse the support of a broad section of the people for Green Bans.”

The term ‘Green Ban’ was first used in 1971, following a public meeting of 600 people at Paddington Town Hall, where a resolution was passed by the BLF to stop the proposed development at Kelly’s Bush.

Following strikes by the BLF, the developer abandoned its plans to build luxury houses at the site, which is now listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

In the years since, Green Bans have helped to preserve the Rocks and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Centennial Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo.

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/sydney-marks-40th-green-bans-anniversary-20110616-1g5lg.html

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