Modia Minotaur

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Friday, May 19, 2006

An Act of Pure Bastardry

Today, it was confirmed that the legendary `Tree of Knowledge' in Barcaldine, Queensland has been deliberately poisoned. The heritage listed tree, beneath which the Australian Labor Party is said to have been formed, is thought to be over 200 years old, and though seedlings taken from it have been planted at the nearby Australian Heritage Workers Centre, which was built to commemorate the centenary of the Shearers Strike of 1891 from which the Australian Workers Union, Pastoralist Union (later AgForce) and Australian Labor Party all sprung, to lose the original tree would be an absolute tragedy to all involved with the Labor Party and union movement, as well as to all Barcaldine locals, no matter their political affilitation.

Vandalism of trees is something I find pretty despicable, but there can be little doubt that in this case, the vandalism was politically motivated. To stoop to this sort of petty and ideological stunt strikes me as the lowest of the low.

It is also notable that a similar attack on the Labor Party's part would be impossible, for the Liberal Party has no symbols, no rallying points, no real talismans or locations steeped in party history that they hold so dear, and this is something which, deny it though they might, they envy the Labor Party deeply (as evidenced by Alexander Downer's neverending efforts at character assassination upon John Curtin). I can imagine that whoever did this to the Tree of Knowledge is snickering about the ALP getting so upset about some old tree, in the same way that opponents of the ALP often criticise ithe party for its enormous respect for its elder statesmen and rich history, as demonstrated only last week at the launch of `The Wran Era'.

The ALP should never make the mistake of living in the past. But nor should it ever be ashamed of wearing its love for its achievements, characters and history on its sleeve. This is what the Tree of Knowledge represents, and this is what whoever has attacked it has attempted to annhilate. Such purely mean-spirited acts seldom win kudos for the perpetrators - sadly, it's unlikely they'll ever be caught - but instead, have the opposite effect (I'm thinking, for example, of the so-called `vandalism' of Ross Cameron's electorate office on the eve of the 2004 election, in which he lost his seat). However, I'll stop short of thanking the lads (or indeed, ladies) responsible for furthering the rich and varied history of the Labor Party, and reminding us that it is one which, as always, is marked by struggles, frustrations, and occasionally, the odd act of pure bastardry.

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