• Former Deputy ALP Leader Tom Uren (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Former Whitlam minister and deputy Labor leader Tom Uren has died, aged 93.
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26 Jan 2015 - 11:58 AM  UPDATED 26 Jan 2015 - 12:35 PM

 

Former Whitlam minister and deputy Labor leader Tom Uren has died, aged 93.

Mr Uren retired from politics after 31 years in 1990, having served in the ministries in the Whitlam and Hawke governments.

Labor MP Anthony Albanese has issued a statement on behalf of Mr Uren's family, describing him as "one of the great characters of Australian post-war politics".

He said a memorial service will be held next week for Mr Uren, after he passed away in a Sydney nursing home on Australia Day.

He also paid tribute to his political service, saying he was a leading figure in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam years.

"He was a prominent activist in numerous environmental causes," he said.

"Uren was smeared as a communist in the 1950s and ‘60s but by the end of his life he would list Pope John XXIII and Martin Luther King as being among his principal influences.

"A member of his family said Uren had met his death 'with the same character and courage he faced the rest of his life'." 

Politicians past and present have begun to pay tribute to the former politician, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten describing him as a "protector of the working class".

Mr Shorten said Mr Uren "helped build a better country".

Mr Uren was born on May 28, 1921 in working class Balmain. The family later moved to Manly.

He left school during the Great Depression at the age of 13 because he could get a job and his father couldn’t, Mr Albanese said.

Having excelled at a range of sports in his youth, Mr Uren fought for the Australian heavyweight title at the age of 20. At 21, he was on the Burma Railway, part of the force commanded by Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop. 

With AAP.