Tom Burns, the Federal ALP President who accompanied Gough Whitlam on his historic trip to China in 1971, has died, aged 75.
The China visit was a precursor to the Whitlam government’s diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1972.
Burns’ interest in China was maintained throughout his political career. Following his retirement from parliament in 1996, he was appointed Chairman of the Queensland-China Council and participated in many government and business delegations to China. In 2003, he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, in Cairns.
Burns was also instrumental in assisting Whitlam to reform the ALP prior to the 1972 elections. He was Queensland secretary of the ALP from 1965-72. The current Secretary, Milton Dick, today described Burns as a “workers’ hero”.