THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THE HON. TOM UREN AC
MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015
Tom Uren was, to me and so many of my generation in Labor politics, our great inspiration, our elder statesman, and an unstintingly generous and loving mentor and friend.
Among the last veterans of World War II to serve in the House of Representatives, Tom’s wartime experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese left him not with bitterness, but with an abiding conviction of the importance of mutual support and collective aid – of the strong helping the weak, the well helping the ill, of those who could bear a heavier burden willingly shouldering that load in the interests of all.
It left him, too, with a great faith in the power of love versus hate. He would always emphasise to those of us to whom he so willingly gave his time, his wisdom, and his experience, that there is no profit in hate, either in personal relationships or in politics. He would quote Martin Luther King’s words, that hate scars the soul.
Loving as he was, he could still be tough: tough in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and peace, tough in his battles to protect the Sydney Harbour foreshore for public use and to restore and invigorate the working-class neighbourhoods of inner Sydney. And if you disappointed him, or he disagreed with you, he let you know.
The face of our city, and the survival of the working-class communities within the inner city areas, is down to Tom. He lived a long and a rich and full life, but the legacy he left us will last far longer.
He was one of Labor’s, and the Left’s, great champions, never hesitating to state his beliefs, always ready to speak out for the voiceless, the dispossessed, for those in need.
We are all the poorer for losing him. He was much loved throughout the Party, and will be very greatly missed.