Monday, 28 March 2022
Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth
I rise to contribute to the condolence motion for our friend and colleague Senator Kimberley Kitching. May I begin by expressing my sympathy to her husband, Andrew, who is clearly a soulmate in every sense of the word; to her family, particularly her parents and brother; to her many friends, to her staff, whom I know she held in such high regard; and, of course, to her colleagues.
I first met Kimberley at a christening—or a name day, actually. That was before either of us entered the Senate, but even then her reputation preceded her. She came here with such fanfare, such mythology, such celebrity and such a weight of expectation, and she proved worthy of it all. While we worked together in various capacities over the last six years, it was doing television with Kimberley over the last 12 months on a show every Friday that I got to know her so much better. Of course, I now realise what an extraordinary privilege that was.
She was bright, funny and intellectual in a way that we rarely see in this place or anywhere these days. She would quote Voltaire as easily as Marx or Burke, Rousseau or Sartre, John Stuart Mill or Adam Smith, Vladimir Lenin or John Lennon. She believed that parliament was the true clearing house of ideas and that the Senate, right here, was where scrutiny and accountability were paramount. She enriched every single issue to which she applied herself. She was never underprepared, and she was always ready to take up the fight with either a scalpel or a boxing glove, whichever the issue called for. I say that with experience, because I was one of those who sat opposite her at estimates and whose nervous twitch began when she walked in the room. I can safely say that I will never wear my Cartier watch to estimates ever, ever again. She always did so with extraordinary charm and intelligence, and, despite her intellect, she did all this without a hint of hubris.
She had a warm energy and a talent that made hers a very compelling and persuasive personality. She was a conviction politician, certainly, but she also knew that conviction without persuasion convinces nobody. She was courageous in a way that few in here dare, knowing that the critical path in here rarely involves a movement away from the party line. But she was never one to be a political sheep to be penned and counted in the Senate alcove, and for that, even for the exceptionally talented, there is often a professional price to pay.
To quote one of her heroes, Ronald Reagan, Kimberley knew two things. She knew that 'The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave' and that 'Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.' Well, Kimberley Kitching was unafraid. I always enjoyed her company and conversation. I loved the fact that she took her job very seriously, but not necessarily herself, and I admired her ability to build relationships across the aisle and across the building. The one thing that struck me about Kimberley, above all others, was that she always remembered the names of my children; I will remember that. In this place of conflict and crisis, and in a zero-sum game, where somebody's failure is attributed to somebody else's success, where somebody's elevation is somebody else's fall from grace, to take a moment to be genuinely interested in someone else's life—and not just their wiki life—and the things that are important to them, the private and the powerful, is so important. And I won't just remember it; I'm going to learn from it, too. I'm going to try and do as she did, with her grace and her charm and her kindness, so that she will always stay with me. So, farewell, Kimberley—farewell to our vanished but never vanquished friend. She was truly the best among us.