Tag Archives: Jack Mundey

More about the plaque

Someone got back to me from both councils yesterday.

There’s no mystery about the plaque down by Johnston’s Creek. ‘Oh, you mean the one honouring Jack Mundey,’ the man from Leichhardt Council said.

I gleaned a little more background by searching for ‘Jack Mundey’ on the Council’s web site. A local resident Joe Mannix proposed more than 12 months ago that a plaque be erected and its unveiling be a way to honour Mundey on his 80th birthday in October last year. The proposal was approved, but evidently there was a delay, as the actual unveiling happened earlier this month, eleven months behind schedule. In a Council handout dated Thursday 16 September, Mayor Jamie Parker wrote:

Last Saturday, Council officially unveiled a plaque to remember the 1972 Builders Labourers Federation Green Ban which joined with resident action groups to stop approved expressways carving up Glebe, Annandale and Lilyfield.
ooooThese actions demonstrated the combined power of union and resident actions in effectively defending local communities. The ill fated freeway project was as much about ‘slum clearance’ as it was about building a network for container movements from the port.
ooooA national treasure, Jack Mundey is 81 years old, and we were delighted to have him attend the function at Smith & Spindlers Park on Saturday.

There was a photo:

Jamie Parker, Verity Firth, Jack Mundey and Joe Mannix officially unveil the plaque

The man on the phone mentioned, as the Mayoral message didn’t, that there were plans to screen Fig Street Fiasco, a community video about the struggle made by Tom Zubrycki. I don’t know if the screening took place, but there’s a dramatic clip at the link that makes my friends’ dreams of violence seem less bizarrely unrealistic.

The caller from the City of Sydney said they hadn’t heard of the plaque in ‘what we call the Cardigan Street Park’ until they received my email. So that leaves us with the vandalism  scenario. The City of Sydney doesn’t have a register of plaques, though it is on a To Do List somewhere. He recommended that I write to the Lord Mayor asking that the plaque be restored, and said that would lead to action of some sort. I’ll do that, and hope to report back in a while.

History acknowledged

In a little strip of green not far from Harold Park Raceway, near where a bridge crosses Johnson’s Creek, a new object appeared the other day: a squat, squarish thing beside the path,  looking more than anything like a cardboard carton fallen off a passing truck – or given its distance from any road, perhaps from a helicopter. On approach, it turned out to be a block of sandstone with a plaque on top.

Over the logo of Leichhardt Municipal Council, the plaque explains itself:

In the early 1970s resident groups,
including the Glebe Society, joined with the
Builders Labourers Federation,
led by Jack Mundey,
to impose a Green Ban on expressways
planned to carve through
Glebe, Annandale and Lilyfield.
This plaque commemorates all the men and women who fought this battle.

Well, I’m chuffed to be commemorated, and so I’m sure are the rest of the raggedy coalition of anarchists, Maoists (who created a poster showing a US flag as highway ploughing through tiny houses, because of course the expressway was a product of US capitalism’s relentless pursuit of profit), students fresh from the Vietnam Moratorium demos, out of work actors, etc, who joined the ‘battle’ with the starchy Glebe Society and the fabulous BLF. In those heady days I remember overhearing a conversation between a Philosophy Lecturer and an Eng Lit Honours student deciding not to blow up the beginning stages of the expressway because although they had it in their hearts to do it, they lacked the practical knowledge of high explosives. Inspired by something someone had read about successful protests in San Francisco, we built an adventure playground in a little park in Darling Street, Glebe, though as far as I know very few children actually availed themselves of our crude constructions. perhaps these are the kinds of reasons why we are being commemorated rather than honoured.

But why in this park? And why now? Isn’t there already a site-appropriate plaque in Glebe that gives more detail? This morning I took the dog to visit that pleasant little park, between 77a and 79 Darling Street.

and found this:

Yes, a pale patch of rock where once a plaque had been. Was this was the work of vandals or the result of Glebe being taken over by the City of Sydney? Did the Councils talk to each other? Is the new plaque some kind of replacement for the stolen/removed one? I’ve phoned Leichhardt Council and emailed the City of Sydney Council. The latter’s web site promises a reply within 14 days.

To be continued …