Senate debates

Monday, 28 March 2022


Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth

11:47 am

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I lay this rose on the desk of former senator Kimberley Kitching as a symbol of friendship and hope for this place—hope that this place is welcoming to those who have been provided the ultimate privilege to represent the people of their state and territory and that there is compassion, respect and kindness afforded to each and every one of us in this place by our colleagues each and every day. Those who represent their communities deserve common respect from political allies and political opponents. This will serve our communities and our democracy, and we will then be a parliament of the best people. More decency and kindness afforded to each other must become the norm, or who will we attract to this place—the best of the best, like Kimberley Jane Elizabeth Kitching, or mediocre representation?

Kimberley was one of mine; she was Aquarius, and that says it all. From the time she was born, I'm sure, on 16 February 1970—she was born in Brisbane and raised as a Catholic—we had a lot in common. But, from the time she walked into this chamber on 25 October 2016, she brought a ray of sunshine. She was married to Andrew, who was her love. Her endless, undying love endured, and we all knew about it. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland. She was admitted as a solicitor by the Supreme Court of Queensland and moved to Melbourne in 1995. She had an interesting life before she came to this place, and, yes, she was one of those local government representatives, like a certain family member of mine, who believed that local government was the most important tier of government in this country.

Kimberley was fierce. She had a wicked intelligence and was a woman of conviction. She was also patriotic and a humanitarian in the true sense of the word. She advocated every day for democratic principles that we hold so dear: the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. Ultimately, she was a human rights advocate. She wanted to celebrate and protect Australian sovereignty. She would not be bullied by people or other countries, even though she was because of the strength of her convictions.

Kimberley was as tough as anything, but, more than that, she was kind, she was warm and she had a sense of humour. Her infectious smile lit up every room she entered. Even at her wake, I was still expecting her to come down the staircase and join us one last time. She could totally disarm you with her charm. Kimberley could talk to anyone, and she would. She wanted friendship in this place, which was not always easy to forge with such blind ambition prevalent in these corridors. She entered this place in 2016 with passion, vision and hope, and she has been described as forward thinking, with bounds of courage to relentlessly follow her views, which I admired and respected. She was passionate about furthering the cause of Labor. She took her work of pursuing government accountability and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities very seriously. So many contributions today have highlighted her skills, her depth of character, her faith, her belief in what was right, and why she would fight for what she believed in.

Kimberley was brilliant at her job, and she achieved so much in an incredibly short time. Her abiding passion was protecting human rights, and she pushed for laws that would allow human rights abusers to have their assets seized. She demonstrated that her passion for her country was always greater than any partisan view. For this she was awarded a Magnitsky Human Rights Award after calling for legislation and regulations on transparency and accountability in government in the digital age, and in artificial intelligence. She truly wasn't here long enough, and that is a complete tragedy, but her work will have a lasting legacy. Labor has lost a loyal, talented, hardworking and caring daughter. Kimberley believed in the goodness of our politics and democracy. She knew that the power of government could be put to good use to make the lives of Australians better and to make Australia stronger and safer in a changing and unstable geopolitical environment.

Kimberley was fearless. She would not hold back when she knew she could try to make our democracy stronger. She wanted political donation reform; she wanted to ensure there was no foreign interference in our democracy. She was never a fence-sitter. She was always on the front foot, and her sharp opinions were backed with sound reasoning. She worked so hard and earned the respect of most of her colleagues, even across party lines. Her ability to unpick details to a forensic level of insight was unmatched. In the Senate committee hearings and at estimates she had this unbelievable wit and the skill to lead witnesses down a path, and the way she did it was ingenious. But there was never anything nasty in her politics, and her complete civility was well renowned. Her elegance and her impressive ability to recall historic references for just about every situation was a testament to her incredible mind. Kimberley stood out from most in this parliament as she was one of the very few who wanted to build others up, and that is a characteristic that is certainly not the norm in this place.

One of my colleagues likes to remind people: in politics, if you want a friend buy a dog. I don't believe that's true. It certainly hasn't been true with some of the politicians that I've worked and served with, and it certainly wasn't true of Kimberley. I had the good fortune to have been in the Senate during Kimberley's term, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to get to know her and spend some memorable and enjoyable times chatting over a glass of bubbly—or maybe two! Yes, she was always late. There was always someone who needed to chat with her or someone she had to give some sage advice to. Or she would bump into someone on her way down the corridor to whichever office we were meeting in. But she did turn up. She turned up and she was with you. When you needed a friend, she was always there.

Many people have spoken about her intelligence, and she certainly was very intelligent. We know that she has left her mark in this place and right across the globe. I know she would have continued to be a good a leader, a patriotic Australian and a proud Australian, and she would have achieved so much more if she had been given the time.

Kimberley's husband of almost two decades, Andrew Landeryou, spoke so eloquently at her funeral. The huge attendance at her funeral reinforced how Kimberley touched so many lives and was held in such high esteem. It's almost impossible to put into words the sadness at losing Kimberley far too soon felt not only by us but, more importantly, by her husband, her parents, her brother, her family and her real friends. My heart goes out to each and every one of them. And let's not forget her loyal and hardworking staff.

Kimberley was here in the Senate for much too short a time, but what a legacy she has left behind. Others were always impressed when they first met Kimberley, but her warmth, her incredible energy and her impeccable manner meant that people were always comfortable in her presence. As I said earlier, she was formidable, but she could totally disarm you with her charm. Her skills as a parliamentarian were widely lauded, but not only was she a great politician; most importantly, she was a great person. She was a great friend. This parliament and future parliaments will miss out on the opportunity of having her wit, her intelligence and her wisdom.

Kimberley will continue to inspire me every single day to be a better person. My condolences go to Andrew and his parents and family. It will be our memories, our faith and the love of our own families that will help, in time, to heal our hearts. But, Kimberley, we will never forget your charm, your smile, your intellect and your friendship. We honour you today, Kimberley. Rest peacefully.


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