For four years the Builders Labourers Federation inspired Sydney, a nation and the world. They led a revolution in ideas about people's right to participate in decisions about public art, architecture and urban planning. “We are builders labourers”, said secretary Jack Mundey “not mere builders labourers”. From 1971, they voted on over 50 requests for bans from resident groups and many hundreds from the National Trust and/or the Institute of Architects. They voted for a big picture: to keep urban low cost housing and to protect the environment and heritage. The most dramatic and creative of these battles took place in the old inner-city working class residential suburbs of The Rocks, Woolloomooloo and in Victoria Street in Kings Cross. The government and developers hoped to transform these areas with high rise commercial towers.
Image: Chips Mackinolty, Green Bands Forever (after Mick Fowler), 2020, digital print on Ilford Galerie Prestige Cotton Rag 300 gsm
Power to the People celebrates the 50th anniversary of the green ban movement and brings together artists, unions and community groups to re-read their legacy.

In June 1971, Jack Mundey, secretary of the Builders Labourers’ Federation (NSW), led his comrades to the barricades in solidarity with a united group of women fighting to save a bush remnant on Sydney Harbour at Hunters Hill.

Newcastle green bans ran in parallel with those in Sydney, beginning in 1971. The exhibition explores green bans to Save Blackbutt Reserve and East End (both 1973), initiated by Newcastle Trades Hall Council and over 25 community groups.
When: Friday 25 February, 5.30pm
Where: Newcastle Libraries, Lovett Gallery, Laman Street, Newcastle, NSW

Places are limited, bookings are essential so book your spot today!

RSVP - Booking essential:
Civilization is not a matter of money and concrete. Civilisation, as I see it, depends on human spirit — human beings — human values.
Patrick White, Money and Concrete, The Builders’ Labourer, September 1973


On the 50th anniversary of the Green Bans, the ideals of their struggle to protect heritage and environmental amenity for all to enjoy are more urgent than ever. In 2011 the Green Bans Art Walk and Exhibition (in two parts at The Cross Art Projects and The Firstdraft Depot Project Space), told the story of an inspired period, its charismatic leaders and grass-roots heroes. The project comprised a series of public guided walks between the exhibition venues functioned as a living instruction manual and moral compass charting stories of good and evil, creativity and conflict. Read more


The Powerhouse Museum Alliance is a group of concerned citizens working to save the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. The Alliance includes longstanding benefactors of the museum, former trustees, design and heritage experts and senior museum professionals. Read more