Today I'll devote my column to Jack Mundey, union leader and environmental activist, who died last week.
Mundey led Sydney's green bans movement which helped save many historic sites in the 1970s. The motives for saving the sites were either environmental or social, or a mixture of both.
This helped save many historic Sydney sites, including The Rocks, in the 1970s. His inspiration led to similar bans in NSW, and spread throughout the world.
The union movement, Labor and Greens politicians paid tribute to the former NSW Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) leader on Monday, including CFMMEU national secretary Dave Noonan who described Mundey as "a visionary" and "an inspiration to all unionists and activists".
The Greens leader Adam Bandt said Mundey was a "leader and a visionary". Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said he was a "great union leader" known for his courage.
Mundey rose to prominence in Sydney as the leader of the BLF, a role he assumed in 1968. As Sydney entered a construction boom in the 1970s, Mundey's BLF instituted 40 green bans throughout the city, a type of strike in which union members refused to work on projects it viewed socially or environmentally undesirable.
Mundey showed us that fighting for people and the environment went hand in hand.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: "We have lost a champion for the planet and for working people. Jack Mundey, a comrade and as leader, who saved so much of our heritage with the Green Bans. Remembering him and thinking of his family today. Thanks Jack. Thanks so very much."
Lee Rhiannon, Jack's friend and former Greens Senator for NSW said: "Jack was a great visionary. The fundamental principles that unite Greens parties across the globe are the four pillars of social justice, environmental sustainability, grassroots democracy and peace and non-violence. They truly sum up Jack's world-view.
"Jack made history in 1965 when he was arrested at Australia's first sit-in protest. On this occasion the action was against the Menzies government which had decided to send conscripts to fight in the Vietnam War.
"As a member of the Communist Party of Australia, he spoke up for socialism with a human face. As a member of the Greens Party he stood as a candidate on a number of occasions and helped strengthen the party's work with unions on a range of issues.
"In the 1980s, Jack was elected to Sydney City Council. It was to the regret of many that he was never elected to parliament."
The green bans movement had an influence on the creation of the German Greens, now among the world's most electorally successful Green parties. When visiting Sydney, Petra Kelly was intrigued by the term "green bans" and, after returning to Germany, founded the German Greens, the world's first Greens party. In turn the Australian Greens took their name from the German Greens.
The Nature Conservation Council chief executive Chris Gambian said the conservation movement was in mourning. "Mundey was a visionary who understood the struggles for social justice and environmental justice are part of the same broader project - to preserve human dignity in the face of unconstrained development," he said.
He will be missed. It is high time we revived his spirit.
In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald in 1972, Mundey argued that while his members "want to build", they preferred to construct hospitals, schools, other public utilities and high-quality housing, rather than "ugly unimaginative architecturally-bankrupt blocks of concrete and glass offices".
"Though we want all our members employed, we will not just become robots directed by developer-builders who value the dollar at the expense of the environment," he said.
More recently, Mundey had been involved in the campaign to save Sydney's Sirius public housing building from being sold off by the government.
Greens NSW co-convenors Sylvia Hale and Rochelle Flood said: "Greens NSW are today mourning the loss of Jack Mundey. The sympathies of our members, staff, councillors and MPs go out to Jack's wife Judy, his family and friends. Collectively, we send our sincere condolences.
"Under his leadership of the Builders Labourers Federation for the first time we saw unity between the struggles of unions and environmentalists."
He will be missed. It is high time we revived his spirit. Vale Jack Mundey.