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Green bans


This is a guide to records relating to green bans held in the Australian National University (ANU) Archives. The ANU Archives preserves the university's own archives and collects records of business, trade unions, professional associations and industry bodies, to support research by the University community and the general public. 

The term 'green ban' came into use in Sydney in the 1970s. Union and community groups cooperated to oppose development of bushland for housing, and redevelopment of urban sites including the Rocks. Socially and environmentally motivated union action previously used the term 'black ban' .

Complex and rancorous union politics were a feature of the time as much as conflict between community groups and property developers. Norm Gallagher of the Builders' Labourers' Federation (BLF) in Melbourne and Jack Mundey of the BLF in Sydney were prominent figures.

N150/68         Z457/27

Image 1: Leaflet from N150/68, papers of Meredith Burgmann; image 2: Leaflet from Z457/Box 27, Working Peoples' Action Committee, papers of Albert Langer

The two collections held in the ANU Archives that relate most substantially to green bans are the personal collections of unionist Joe Owens, and of academic and activist Meredith Burgmann. Relevant union holdings include records of the BLF, the Building Workers' Industrial Union (BWIU), and the Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association of Australasia (FEDFA).

Most records listed in this guide relate to green bans in New South Wales, but there is also some material relating to Victoria. Please note that the guide is not exhaustive, and there may be other relevant items within ANU Archives collections. In most cases material has not been digitised, but can be requested for viewing in the Archives reading room. If you are unable to visit the ANU in Canberra you may wish to consider engaging the services of a professional researcher to consult records on your behalf.

Other institutions holding archives relating to green bans include the City of Sydney Archives, the State Library of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne Archives, the National Library of Australia, and the National Film and Sound Archive.

See Using the Archives for information on how to access the archives and use them for research.

Background image: Map of Darlinghurst and Potts Point, Sydney showing development applications and green

bans, printed on back of newspaper The City Squatter (c. 1973), Joe Owens collection, Z235 Box 32