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The Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) is an Australian trade union organisation which existed from 1911 until 1972, and from 1976 until 1986, when it was permanently deregistered in various Australian States by the federal Labor government and some state governments of the time.[1] This occurred in the wake of a Royal Commission into corruption by the Union. About the same time, BLF Federal Secretary Norm Gallagher was jailed for corrupt dealings after receiving bribes from building companies which he used to build a beach house[2]

Builders Labourers Federation Logo.jpg
Full nameBuilders Labourers Federation Queensland
Key peopleDavid Hanna (State Secretary), Kane Pearson (State Assistant Secretary).
Female members of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation march on International Women's Day in Sydney, 1975.


Social and economic justiceEdit

The BLF fought successful campaigns which became known as the green bans against development projects which it viewed as harmful to the built and natural environment of Sydney. These campaigns included blocking plans to redevelop The Rocks area, Kelly's Bush in Hunters Hill and Centennial Park. The Green Bans are now commonly recognised as directly responsible for saving areas of Sydney with substantial heritage value. Victoria Hall in Fremantle, Western Australia was also saved from demolition by a green ban, in 1974.

They also took up other causes, such as Aboriginal rights, anti-war campaigns and support for pensioners. The BLF had a long-standing programme on Radio 3CR, 'The Concrete Gang', which is now presented by the CFMEU. One of the original announcers for the BLF was John Cummins.

NSW Branch InterventionEdit

The Federal Union under Norm Gallagher faced many protests initially when the Federal union intervened in the affairs of the N.S.W. branch of the union in the mid-seventies. Many of the democratic measures installed by the N.S.W. Branch leadership by Jack Mundey, Bob Pringle and Joe Owens and others were scrapped and many of the democratically imposed Green Bans were lifted. Officials of the N.S.W. Branch eventually urged members to join the imposed branch, but were themselves blacklisted from the industry by Federal Union officials. The Federal takeover of the N.S.W. Branch was instrumental in calling off many of the imposed Green Bans and the cancellation of the union's commitment to fighting for permanence in the building industry.[3]

BLF in QueenslandEdit

The BLF existed in Queensland as a State registered union (known as the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders' Labourers' Federation (Queensland Branch) Union of Employees). The Queensland BLF was a part of the National BLF prior to the de-registration and was not as radical or militant as the branches in Victoria and New South Wales were perceived to be.

Whilst the BLF is usually associated with the left of the political spectrum, the Queensland BLF was historically aligned with the right faction of the Australian Labor Party. The Queensland BLF was a member of the Labor Unity faction which is sometimes referred to as the Old Guard. The Labor Unity Faction often votes with the "right" faction (also known as the AWU or Forum faction) at State Labor Conferences.

On October 16, 2013, at the CFMEU Construction National Conference in Cairns, BLF Secretary David Hanna and left-wing CFMEU Queensland (Construction Division) Secretary Michael Ravbar announced the two unions would be merging.[4] The merger was finalised in 2014.


The BLF slogan was Dare to struggle, Dare to win.

See alsoEdit


  • Inside the BLF: a union self-destructs by Brian Boyd, Melbourne, Vic. : Ocean, (1991). ISBN 1-875284-44-3
  • Builders' Labourers' Song Book Published by Widescape International and the BLF, 1975. ISBN 0-86932-010-6

External linksEdit