Green Bans Forever

Mundey’s vision for a sane environmental and planning policy and the fight for a more just society is urgent. The persistent and unrelenting decades of legislative amendments have disabled and overruled consultation, heritage and environment.

Vale Myra Demetriou

Vale Myra Demetriou. A fighter whose spirit inspired a community then a city. Myra passed away on 23 October 2021. In 2008 I interviewed Myra for a collaborative public art project with Ruark Lewis called ‘Homelessness’. We installed a frieze on the parapet of the National Trust headquarters spelling out HOMELESSNESS and 5 large billboards in Millers Point (on Abraham Mott Hall and the Older Women’s Network centre) to recall the patterning of maritime pilot markers. Ruark rendered my interviews as a kind of pattern poetry. Myra spoke about her shoe shop in Erskine Street. The artwork was a marker: the sneaky sell-off of the former Maritime Services Board houses had begun. Behind the Garrison Church is a tiny fountain erected by Myra as a memorial to her dear partner. The valiant Millers Point ALP branch met in the Garrison Church Hall (former museum maintained by the branch). 

By Jo Holder

Tributes to Myra at - 

Actions Now

Current Actions - Judy Mundey’s Speech at Public Housing Rally, May 2021

This is a transcript of the speech given by Judy Mundey on Wednesday 12 May 2021.

Before a rally to defend and extend public housing in NSW. The rally started at Martin Place and marched around Parliament House. Organised by Hands Off Glebe, Friends of Erskineville and Shelter.
Martin Place rally photo
Judy Mundey speech
The problem of homelessness in Australia and in our city is growing. People are sleeping in railway station tunnels, there are increasing reports of older women being homeless and families are on waiting lists for many years.

This housing crisis will not be resolved by relying on the private sector.

We are here today in support of the provision of much needed public housing.
The provision of public housing by governments is not a new concept.

About 100 years ago, in 1919, the then government of the day built public housing in the Rocks area of Sydney, not so far from where we are meeting. It was to house people left homeless by the slum clearance of the area thought necessary to eradicate the Plague which was then afflicting Sydney.

In 1980 the then government of the day again built public housing in the Rocks. The back story this time was not a plague but possibly something like it, at least for those who lived there. This historic part of Sydney, some of it, in terms of white occupation, dating from the 1790s, was to be replaced with high rise commercial development.

The residents were once again to be displaced.

But with many of them having family ties in the area going back generations, they decided to fight their eviction and sought help from the NSW Builders Labourers Federation.

That Union agreed to the request of the local residents’ action group to place a Green Ban on the area which prevented its destruction.

The historic precinct was preserved for future generations.

During the course of the campaign there was some displacement and the, by then, new government of the day agreed to build public housing for those who needed it.

In 1980 that development, named Sirius, was opened. It was comprised of 79 public housing apartments ranging in size up to four bedrooms.

It was designed by Government architects and built by the NSW Housing Commission as it was then called.

That building was award winning and was home to a close knit, high functioning, supportive community.

In 2014 the government of the day announced that public housing in the Rocks and Millers Point and Dawes Point would be sold off to the private market, including the Sirius building.

They said the money from the sales would be used to provide more public housing.

It is incongruous for the Government to argue Sirius would be sold off to provide public housing. It was public housing, fully functioning, purpose built, no deterioration, in excellent condition – an exemplary example of public housing, a success story.

But it had harbour views, built right across from the Opera House and one could be forgiven for concluding the Government felt public tenants did not deserve or were not entitled to such salubrious surroundings.

In fact the whole area had become much sought after by then and so the other public tenancies in the area were also sold off to the highest bidder.

There was no concern for the well being or welfare of those who were evicted, losing not just their homes but the support of their community, as recorded in the poignant stories of their loss.

It is unconscionable that more than three years later, the Sirius building and its 79 apartments remains empty.

What is worse is that the fate that befell Sirius and its residents appears to be planned for public housing in Glebe, Waterloo and Erskineville and possibly elsewhere.

In the 1950s and 60s there was massive public housing development.

State Housing Commissions were the developers, the homes were public assets, they were affordable, they were safe. They were not known to use inflammable building products as in the Grenfell Tower in London and in some developer built projects here, there were no scandals such as in the Opal Tower or Mascot Tower where buildings were found to be unfit for safe habitation for the luckless buyers.

At the time when Sirius was built, only some 40 years ago, governments still accepted or believed that citizens deserved quality public housing.

Public housing built by the government for the people is no more an extravagant concept than is public education or public health care. A home is a basic necessity for a decent standard of living.

Many people will never be able to afford to buy a home and the increasing unaffordability of buying a home today makes the urgency for public housing as great as it ever was.

The invitation by the government to the private sector for private developments on public land in exchange for the inclusion of a few affordable units will not reduce let alone solve this crisis. We need the government to accept its responsibility and make provision for what is, after all, no more than a basic human right.

We have set up a petition letter to the Housing Minister to stop the demolition of public housing in Eveleigh and Glebe. Please sign it here and stay active in the campaign: 

Video of Judy’s speech is on Facebook: 

Current Actions - Willow Grove Parramatta.

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.

Save the Powerhouse: Ultimo-based state-wide community campaign:

North Parramatta Residents Action Group:
Save Willowgrove at Parramatta from the Premier’s Bulldozers, 2020
Willow Grove heritage action material re-creation. Adapted from North Parramatta Resident Action Group.
Judy Mundey, Stacey Miers, Jack Mundey and Mickie Quick, 2011.

Parramatta / Powerhouse

In mid-2020 the CFMMEU supported by the National Trust placed a green ban on stately Willow Grove a Victorian house standing in the way of “visions” of a new Parramatta CBD: a plan for 14,350 new dwellings, that will dramatically alter the historic character of Parramatta and the history of the state.

Green Bans: Powerhouse / ParramattaLessons from the ongoing fight for the Powerhouse.

1. Arts and cultural policy cannot be made by developers, boards stacked with political cronies, financial consultants and servile planning departments. It requires the input of professionals.

2. Arts and cultural organisations, their boards and directors need a greater degree of independence from ministerial interference.

3. Parliamentary select committees have an important role to play in holding governments to account.

4. Communities, people of knowledge and key trades and professional organisations must be involved.

5. End sham or “nudge” consultations.

6. Reality check: only the Powerhouse building has been saved. The other buildings at Ultimo are up for grabs (including Tram Depot). Only 3 objects are confirmed as remaining at the Powerhouse Ultimo: Locomotive No 1, the Catalina plane, the Bolton and Watt steam engine. Without context, they are reduced to décor.

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. 

Save the Powerhouse: Ultimo-based state-wide community campaign: 

North Parramatta Residents Action Group:

Save Kings Cross

In Kings Cross, developers have returned, re-working old plans and consolidating sites as giant “vision” developments (mixed uses of pubs, hotels, apartments and the optional entertainment centre). Kings Cross faces at least three of cloned “improvements” on Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street.

Save the Powerhouse

Grand news that Powerhouse is saved! Parramatta was not getting a museum but a monster flexible event space below a residential tower. The demolition of Parra’s diminishing heritage assets — WillowGrove and St Georges Terraces — and the dispersal of the State Collection on “oneway tickets” were the last straws. Finally, the citizens and union members said they would “put their bodies on the line”. Onwards citizens to Save Willow Grove and the terraces – remnants of white settlement – and build an Indigenous Heritage Centre and invest in the vision for the Parra Female Factory.

Stand up for the Powerhouse Museum 30 June 2020
Note: this is not a rally nor a protest, as we are still under Covid -19 restrictions!

News Flash: Jack Mundey's legacy continues! Today a new green ban was imposed on historic buildings in Parramatta that are set to be demolished under controversial plans to shift the Powerhouse Museum from inner-city Ultimo. The CFMMEU construction division announced a green ban while local heritage campaigners said they are prepared to "put their bodies in front of machinery". Branch secretary Darren Greenfield put a moratorium on demolishing the Willow Grove Villa and St George's Terraces in Parramatta, the first since the death last month of former NSW BLF leader Jack Mundey a month ago. The local community, through the North Parramatta Residents Action Group, has campaigned for years to save these two heritage buildings and they are supported by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and the Historic Houses Association. North Parramatta Residents Action Group spokesperson, Suzette Meade, said the community had tried to reason with Premier Gladys Berejiklian for four years. "Over this time we've offered solutions but they have been ignored," Meade said. "Jack's recent passing has reminded all of us that to simply be passive will only accelerate the destruction of Australia's heritage and our activities honour Jack Mundey’s legacy."

More information: Save the Powerhouse -
Powerhouse Museum Alliance -
And North Parramatta Residents Action -


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