Jack Mundey, christened John Bernard Mundey, was born in North Queensland, one of five children of a share farmer on the Atherton Tablelands. In September 1961, his first wife Stephanie (nee Lennon, born 1939) died from a cerebral tumour when she was 22 years old. Their only son Michael had been born 15 months earlier, in 1960. In 1965, Mundey married lawyer Judith (Judy) Ann (b.1944), daughter of John Willcocks and Phyllis Rimmer. Judy became national president of the Communist Party of Australia from 1979 to 1982. Jack’s son Michael died in a car accident in 1982 when he was 22 years old. Jack Mundey died on 10 May 2020.
Occupation & interests
Jack Mundey came to Sydney in 1951 as a professional footballer and played rugby league for Parramatta for three years. He worked as a builder’s labourer and became an outspoken and active leader of the Builders’ Labourers Federation (BLF). He was secretary of the NSW branch of the BLF from 1968 to 1975. In the 1970s, he formed and led the Green Ban movement which preserved many of Sydney’s historic sites from demolition and saved the inner-city suburbs of Woolloomooloo and The Rocks from unfettered development. Internal dissension within the Builders’ Labourers Federation led to his expulsion and meant he was not able to work on building sites for many years. In July 1995, he was appointed Chair of the NSW Historic Houses Trust. He has lectured extensively and published prolifically on urban conservation. Mundey had no formal tertiary education but in 1998 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of NSW and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of WA for his role in the conservation movement.
Mundey was a committed environmentalist and was a national councillor with the Australian Conservation Foundation for 11 years. The Green Bans movement that he led saved many inner-urban tenants of low-cost rental homes from eviction and whole communities from disruption and dislocation. He continued to be involved in environment and urban issues and opposed threats to historic Sydney sites.
Local government service
Jack Mundey was elected to Sydney Council as representative of Gipps Ward on 14 April 1984 and served until 1987. He was chairman of the Planning committee from May 1984 to September 1985. He was a member of the Communist Party and served as an Independent member of the Residents Action Group.
Tony Stephens, ‘Turn of phrase made ‘green’ a rallying cry that saved heritage’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 May 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/national/turn-of-phrase-made-green-a-rallying-cry-that-saved-heritage-20200511-p54rve.html
Burgmann, Meredith and Verity 1999, Green bans, red union: environmental activism & the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
Colman, James 2016, The house that Jack built, NewSouth Publishing, Coogee, NSW.
Golder, Hilary 2004, Sacked: removing and remaking the Sydney City Council 1853-1988, City of Sydney.
Mundey, Jack 1981, Green bans and beyond, Angus & Robertson, Sydney
‘Green Banners hail their hero’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1981, https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/from-the-archives-1981-green-banners-hail-their-hero-20191023-p533ii.html
Australian Biography: Jack Mundey, Film Australia, broadcast 2000, https://www.australianbiography.gov.au/subjects/mundey/index.html
Sydney Oral Histories website, interview with Jack Mundey by Siobhán McHugh, 2015, https://www.sydneyoralhistories.com.au/jack-mundey
Stephanie Fay Veronica (Lennon) Mundey (1939 – 1961), https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Lennon-1294
City of Sydney Archives: Aldermen’s Files