Tom Uren, The Burma Railway POW Who Became An Anti-War Campaigner And Leading Left Wing Figure, Has Died

Julie Owens, then MP for Parramatta, Tom Uren and entertainer Little Pattie in 2012 in Sydney. Phil Blatch-Pool/Getty Images

Tom Uren, one of Australia’s great left wing figures, has died aged 93.

The boxer, soldier and former Burma railway prisoner of war became a campaigner against the Vietnam War, an activist in the conservation movement, helped establish the Australian Heritage Commission and was a minister in the Whitlam government.

His family said Mr Uren’s met his death “with the same character and courage he faced the rest of his life”.

A memorial service will be held in Sydney next week.

He was born on May 28, 1921, in the working class suburb of Balmain.

During World War II he was taken prisoner by the Japanese, worked on the infamous Thai-Burma Railway and later saw the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in Japan.

He was a key figure during street protests at Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and in opposition to nuclear weapons.

He was the federal MP for Reid for 32 years from 1958 and minister for urban and regional development when Gough Whitlam’s Labor Government came to power in 1972.

Mr Uren is survived by his two children, Michael and Heather, and his second wife Christine. His first wife, Patricia Palmer, died of cancer in 1981.

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