The Green Bans That Saved Sydney

Forty years ago a small labourers’ trade union executive made a decision that was to change the face of environmental activism around the world and save Sydney from much of the massive over-development of the 1970s.

In prosaic fashion the executive minutes for 4 June 1971 of the NSW Builders Labourers’ Federation record an unremarkable resolution: Moved Bro. Owens, seconded Bro. T Hogan that R Pringle investigate a report next Tuesday on Kelly (sic) Bush.

Thus the first green ban was born. Brother Pringle came back from his inspection and recommended that the union place a ban on building activity at the Bush. Kelly’s Bush, the last remnant of natural bushland on the Sydney Harbour foreshore was being threatened by a large housing development. The now famous Battlers for Kelly’s Bush, the middle class women of Hunters Hill had asked the Builders Labourers to place a ban on building the development — via

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