Mr Carr said the green bans preserved these parts of Sydney until the Wran government was elected and introduce the state’s first heritage legislation.
“He boldly shifted our views about preserving the natural and built environment at a crucial time,” said Mr Carr.
“He learnt to deploy the power of the organised trade union movement in the battle to save our heritage.”
After Mr Mundey’s death flags at Sydney Trades Hall, headquarters of Unions NSW, were lowered to half mast.
“Mr Mundey was one of the Australian labour movement’s great heroes who was an inspiration to people across the political spectrum,” said the NSW Labor leader, Jodi McKay. “NSW Labor sends its heartfelt condolences to Jack’s wife, Judy, and to his comrades who will remember him.”
The first green ban was born of an unlikely alliance between the BLF and a group of women fighting to preserve a swathe of bushland in Hunters Hill from a property developer in 1971.
The women, who had been dismissed by the local council as “13 bloody housewives” turned to the union movement for support in the campaign of the area known as Kelly’s Bush.
Days later BLF members at an A.V. Jennings building site in North Sydney endorsed a resolution that said, “If one blade of glass or one tree is touched at Kelly’s Bush, this half-completed building will stand forever half complete as a monument to Kelly’s Bush.”
Mr Mundey would later tell The Sydney Morning Herald that the fight for Kelly’s Bush was, “the first time the enlightened working class teamed with the enlightened middle class to fight for the environment anywhere in the world.”
Mr Carr said it revealed much about Mr Mundey leadership that he was able to call on the union’s members to risk their jobs to preserve bushland and heritage buildings. “It tells you that he was trusted and that he was also delivering for them on wages and occupational health and safety,” said Mr Carr.
The labour movement historian Rowan Cahill, who knew Mr Mundey throughout his career, said that Mr Mundey had been exposed to ideas about the environment and conservation as well as women’s and gay rights by the Communist Party of Australia, which in turn was influenced by the European movement.
“It was a very rich intellectual cauldron,” he said.
According to Sylvia Hale, the co-convener of the NSW Greens, Mundey’s influence spread overseas. When she visited Sydney during the period the German activist Petra Kelly, was intrigued by the term ‘green bans’, which Mundey had coined to distinguish them from ‘black bans’. On her return to Germany Kelly founded the world’s first Greens party.
Mr Mundy argued against the entrenchment of individuals in positions of power in unions and served just two terms as BLF leader.
“He was a modest man, that was part of his personality,” said Mr Carr.
In 2000 Mr Mundey told the NSW union journal Workers Online that the rise of “top level wheeling and dealing” between the ACTU and Labor governments in the 1980s and 1990s had damaged the union movement and contributed to the decline in membership and, as a result, contributed to increased social inequality.
Nick O’Malley is National Environment and Climate Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He is also a senior writer and a former US correspondent.