25 November 2009

When Graham Schaffer was given a clipping from the tree of knowledge as a birthday gift, he felt it was only right to plant it in a place of learning.

Professor Schaffer, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, recently donated the ghost gum cutting to UQ.

Professor Schaffer's cutting is one of 25 salvaged from the tree after it was poisoned by vandals in 2006, and is believed to be one of only a few in private hands.

"I was delighted by the gift but I didn't think it was something that would be appropriate in private hands," he said.

"I thought it would be devalued in a private location and the St Lucia campus seemed an appropriate place to plant it."

The ghost gum, which was situated in Barcaldine, Western Queensland, is considered the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party.

In 1891, about 3000 shearers striking against poor working conditions and low wages are believed to have founded the ALP under the tree.

Professor Schaffer was given the cutting by friend and double UQ alumnus Dr Michael Rutherford (BDSc 1979; BA 1995).

With both Professor Schaffer and Dr Rutherford linked to UQ, the University seemed an apt home for the tree.

"I was pleased to receive it, but equally pleased to be able to donate it to UQ," Professor Schaffer said.

The cutting was recently planted at the St Lucia Campus and Professor Schaffer, in consultation with the grounds staff, plans to produce a plaque, which will include information about the history of the tree as well as its Latin and Indigenous names.

Media: Professor Schaffer (07 3365 3329, g.schaffer@uq.edu.au) or Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)