Monday, 28 March 2022
Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth
I didn't prepare a speech, because there's something very special about former senator Kimberley Kitching—something very special. I couldn't identify what it is; it was even deeper than what I thought on the surface. So I thought I'd see what emerges and share that.
First of all, I extend my condolences—and condolences on behalf of the One Nation party and Senator Hanson, particularly—to family and staff. I know Senator Kitching valued family enormously, and we've shared text messages, Andrew. I'll share more about that later. The second part of the motion of condolence is to extend our sympathy to family, and we certainly do that, and to the staff. Kimberley thought so highly of her staff, and I can see why.
I'll talk more about something special within Kimberley Kitching, and that's through appreciation for some of her qualities. Andrew and I exchanged text messages, so I'll just share something from that, because family was very important to Kimberley. Sometimes a few words say it best. In this case—yours, Andrew—she was such a happy soul. But, even more than that, there was her competence and dedication, and I will remember her amazing, beautiful smile. That shone from somewhere deep within. It wasn't a superficial smile; it was a smile—I'll summarise it this way—that is the beautiful, pure energy that is Kimberley. It's one of the most wonderful smiles I've ever seen, one of warmth, love and acceptance.
It stunned me that I was stunned by Senator Kitching's death. Death is a natural part of life. Sure, we have losses, but death, still, is death. Why was I stunned when I got the text message saying that Senator Kitching had died? I wondered: why was I feeling so much grief? It was just bright and easy to be with Kimberley. It was so bright and happy. She always had time and was always sincere. I knew I was getting the real deal with Kimberley Kitching—always, every time. It didn't matter if I bumped into her in a hallway—she'd say, 'Oh, Malcolm,' and it was sincere. If I caught her at a bad time, she'd say, 'Can I call you later?' It was always sincere.
We didn't work together much, but we got on very well. That's rare, as some people have said. Senator Hanson—Pauline—took it to heart. She was very, very upset, and she has been for a while, because she and Kimberley confided in each other. Senator Hanson has been through a lot, yet she still finds it so easy to trust people. But it's very easy for her to let that trust go if someone abandons it. Never once did Kimberley Kitching do that, and that meant a lot to Senator Hanson and to me.
The breadth of her loss—across the whole parliamentary spectrum, across politics—is coming out right now. That's due to her work and her personality. People have mentioned Magnitsky and China, and the protection of Australia, and they've also mentioned that Senator Kitching worked well on committees. Her purpose was beyond the party; it was for the parliament. But it was beyond the parliament; it was for the people of Australia. It was for the national agenda, not for a personal agenda, and, as others have said in here, that is rare. She wanted to hold everyone accountable—not only the government and her party; she'd hold me accountable if I said something she didn't agree with. She served the people. That is what parliament is supposed to be for but quite often is not.
Labor, if it gets into government, as so many are tipping, has incurred a great loss in the loss of Senator Kitching. The crossbench is important, as people are working out. The Liberals understand that. They put one person in charge of the connection with us, because they know how important trust and honesty are to Senator Hanson and me. Senator Kitching got that. She worked it out pretty early. Her honesty, her reliability and her respect meant she was a natural fit with Senator Hanson and me. I'd even go so far as to say that, coming from Queensland—where State of Origin is so important—her state of origin was Queensland. She was a Queenslander, and we're proud of that.
I'll get on to the third part of the condolence motion: appreciation. Intelligence—that's obvious. So many people have said so. But it was with humility and respect, not lording it over people, not extending power over people or controlling people; it was to help people to work together because she understood that working together is so much more beneficial and so much more effective. Courage—there was no nonsense, no BS. She was direct, yet she was always personable. It's so, so rare. She had the ability to understand complexity and to get right through to the guts of it to get the kernel and understand that, and then she would work around that.
One of the most important things, I think, about Kimberley Kitching was that she was female; she was feminine. These days we're not supposed to be feminine or masculine, but Kimberley said 'nonsense' to that—I can see you smiling, Andrew. She was feminine to the core. She knew that being feminine has a certain power to it, and she used that power very effectively, not to manipulate but just as a female human; she did it so well. She was wonderfully feminine, a beautiful, beautiful human.
She had a sense of humour, and she was always personal. We were never a vote to Kimberley Kitching; we were people who had a vote. She maintained her integrity and her honesty, and she always engaged and connected—really sincerely connected. I can see Senator O'Neill understands exactly what I'm talking about, and so does Senator Polley. Her biggest thing was that smile. But it wasn't the smile itself; it was the heart that was reflected in that smile, her approachability and her personality. It is very, very rare.
I extend my condolences again on behalf of Senator Hanson and myself and the One Nation party to you, Andrew, to Senator Kitching's family and to her staff. My life is much better for having known Kimberley, the parliament is much better for having experienced Kimberley and Australia is much better for having experienced Kimberley. I hope that as the grief flows—and I acknowledge Senator McCarthy's wonderful comments about grief—and as that grief passes, you can focus on how much she gave to us all and value that.