Tom Burns saved Whitlam from obscurity but regarded building retirement villages his greatest personal achievement

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The Sydney Morning Herald reported the sudden passing away of brilliant but fiery Labor Party veteran Tom Burns this month. Credited with saving Gough Whitlam from expulsion from the Labor Party when Whitlam was Deputy Leader in 1966 and then pioneering the “Its Time” campaign to win Whitlam government in 1972, Burns was still an avowed militant socialist known for his strong language. He admitted: “I am a bad tempered bastard. I like telling a bastard he is a bastard because he is a bastard’.

He pioneered Australia’s relations with China and received an AO in 2001 for his ground breaking work.

He went on to be Deputy Premier to Wayne Goss’s government for 6 years. He claimed his greatest public achievement however was establishing retirement communities in Queensland country towns so elderly people didn’t have to move to the city.