Who would have thought back in the '70s that Builders Labourers' unionist, Jack Mundey, would be honoured after his death by thousands of people who'd gathered for a State Memorial in the Sydney Town Hall?
But his persistence and bravery have at last been acknowledged by the state.
Jack Mundey, nemesis of the Liberal Premier Askin at the time, was at the forefront of activist conservation which has preserved natural open space and forest against encroachment by developers that we can still enjoy today.
Kelly's Bush in Hunters Hill was the site for the first 'green ban' in NSW by the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF), a union that became synonymous with direct action to conserve the environment, with over fifty development site green bans over a period of about a decade. Afterwards, Mundey continued with his life-long mission of conservation.
In 1971 Kelly's Bush, which had been zoned as reserve open space, was under threat from a development proposed by AV Jennings to build 8-storey apartments and townhouses. So a group of local women, including the group's secretary, Kath Lehany, banded together to protest and, backed by the BLF, were able to save their parkland.
Jack Mundey described the group as 'upper middle-class morning tea matrons' but extended the power of the trade union to them on the grounds that it was the union's obligation to be concerned about environmental and social issues.
And so support for the group grew to include major unions, the FED&FA, the Building Workers Union, the Miscellaneous Workers Union and the State Labour Council. And the local women environmentalists won the day.
They kept their community open space after the election of the Wran Labor Government which bought the Parramatta River waterfront land to ensure it would be saved for the people of NSW into the future.