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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Australian 'Labor tree' poisoned
Tree of Knowledge, Barcaldine (picture courtesy of Barcaldine Shire Council)
The tree was a landmark in Barcaldine (pic: Barcaldine Shire Council)
An historic tree in Australia famed for being the birthplace of the centre-left Labor party has died after being poisoned, party officials say.

The Tree of Knowledge in the Queensland town of Barcaldine was officially declared dead after it was poisoned with herbicide earlier in the year.

The Eucalyptus tree, called a gum tree in Australia, was where sheep shearers met for a landmark strike in 1891.

The Labor party's leader said the tree may be dead but its values lived on.

It's an icon of the town, it's an icon of Australia really for the workers
Pat Ogden
Local Labor Party president

"The men that stood under that Tree of Knowledge basically were fighting for a fair day's work for a fair day's pay, a basic Aussie value, now under challenge," Kim Beazley said.

"So the Tree of Knowledge is dead but the values and the struggle lives on. Just as relevant today as it was for the shearers who met under it.''

Tourist influx

The tree - in the centre of Barcaldine - is believed to be around 200 years old and was put on the country's heritage list in 2005.

It was officially declared dead by a tree doctor, local Labor Party branch president Pat Ogden said.

He said they first noticed something was wrong with the tree in April when its leaves were falling off. Tests showed chemicals had been thrown around its roots.

"Now there's no leaves on it and the limbs are up there in the air just like a ghost," he said.

He said the town had seen a rise in tourists wanting to see the tree before it died.

"It's an icon of the town, it's an icon of Australia really for the workers," he said.

Timeline: Australia
25 Aug 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Australia
11 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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