Monday, 28 March 2022
Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth
I rise to make a short contribution to condolences for the late Senator Kimberley Kitching. My Tasmanian colleagues, Senators Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk, have requested that my comments be attributed to them also.
Kimberley joined the Senate on 25 October 2016 and was sworn in in November 2016, filling the vacancy created by Stephen Conroy's resignation in September that year. Following the 2019 election, Kimberley was appointed shadow assistant minister for government accountability and also Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.
I was elected Opposition Whip following the 2016 double dissolution election, and it was in this role that I got to know Kimberley. When any new senator is elected, the role of the whip is to ensure that their entry to the Senate is as smooth as possible—or at least as smooth as we can make it—and also to ensure that their staff have the help and support that they need in that new role. It was in that role that I got to know Kimberley and her staff, particularly Maree and Jordan.
It was after the 2019 election that Kimberley and I spent more time together. We often, as whips, spend many, many hours here in the chamber with frontbenchers who are on duty, and we spend that time together. Quite often our time is taken up ensuring that the smooth running of the chamber occurs, but at other times, when people are talking for hours on end sometimes, we just get the opportunity to chat with the frontbencher. When we got the opportunity to chat, when Kimberley was on the frontbench, I don't ever recall talking politics with her. We had many conversations. They were mostly about our pets—swapping photos of her dogs, Ronnie and Nancy-Jane, and my cats, Sam and Eddy. We talked for a very long time about them, laughing about their antics and also about how much we spoilt them. We chatted about our families. In the last sitting in 2021, we talked about visiting our respective families on the Sunshine Coast and how we were both looking forward very much to visiting them over the Christmas/New Year break, particularly given the lockdowns and the length of time that we'd been unable to catch up with our families. We joked about being on the Sunshine Coast at around the same time and maybe catching up for a coffee. Of course, we didn't get to do that. Our time was full with our grandchildren and family, and I'm sure that Kimberley's time with her family was the same.
During the lockdowns in Victoria, I would often call in on the Victorian senators to check if they were going okay. Again, the chats Kimberley and I had were long. They were about how hard the lockdowns were, about the Chief Medical Officer in Victoria and how good he was in fulfilling his role, and about how he'd worked with my sister in the accident and emergency department in Burnie for some time. So we shared a common theme, and we often joked about the connection there. But the conversation after I phoned her was always ended with a 'thanks for calling', and she would then say, 'Bye, darling.' I'm not sure whether she spoke to everyone that way when she ended a phone call, but generally that was how she finished our conversations.
I wish to pass on my sincere condolences to Andrew, who I met a couple of times here when he was in Canberra and was introduced by Kimberley, and to her family, her friends and her staff, particularly Maree and Jordan, who we work with closely here in Canberra. Vale Kimberley.
I seek leave to have the contributions of Senators Carr and Marielle Smith incorporated into Hansard.
The speeches read as follows—