Senate debates

Monday, 28 March 2022


Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth

12:16 pm

Photo of Richard ColbeckRichard Colbeck (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services) Share this | Hansard source

I too rise to pay tribute to the life of Senator Kimberley Kitching and associate myself with the remarks that have been made around the chamber today. It seems just too soon that we're reflecting on the loss of another one of our colleagues in this place. I think I said on that last occasion how tragic it was to lose somebody that we're all serving with, and it's a genuine tragedy that we're doing the same thing again so soon.

I want to acknowledge Andrew, his family, Kimberley's family and her good friends, but particularly also the Labor family, who have lost a second valued member in just a very short time. These sorts of events shake this place. They give us pause for reflection. They make us all think about the way that we're working here in this place and the things that we might or might not achieve during our time here. I think it probably also gives us a very strong sense of time and moment. The reflection is a good thing. It's a valuable thing for us all to take that time to reflect on our purpose here and what we want to achieve here.

Many times today, there's been reference to Kimberley's first speech. The first speech is usually a marker of somebody who arrives here and sets down what they would like to achieve, how they would like to operate and how they would like to interact. If we're lucky, we get the opportunity to reflect on that at the end of our career. Unfortunately for Kimberley, she doesn't get the opportunity to do that. It is left to us today to reflect on those markers that she laid down in her first speech, acknowledge them, pay tribute to them and congratulate her for the work that she did and some very rare achievements.

I acknowledge the quote from her speech that Minister Birmingham read out at the outset, about the way that Kimberley decided she would like to operate here in the chamber. She was true to her word. The things that she set out in her first speech were the way that she went about her work. I think that is reflected in the heartfelt words that have been attributed in acknowledgement of Kimberley across the chamber today. She was genuinely a bright light in this place. We all felt that and we all had the opportunity at various levels to reflect on that. My last conversation with Kimberley was at the end of the last Senate estimates, at the airport. She was revelling in the fact she'd just had a period of time in estimates but she was also reflecting on the speech she was going to make the following Monday, and she was looking forward to the impact that would have, too. It's been said a number of times she wasted no time while she was here, and we should acknowledge that.

It is very, very rare for somebody to achieve what Kimberley achieved from opposition and to be recognised as broadly as she was for that, with her work in support of Magnitsky legislation. It is a rare thing to garner support across the chamber, across the political divide, and to have that recognised and to have that composed into legislation, and for that legislation to then be passed unanimously. It does not happen very often from opposition; it's a rare thing. It's something that should be remembered and recognised and acknowledged, as it duly has been in this place and internationally.

Kimberley spoke of her love of local government—the closest to the people. Having also served in local government, I can say it is a great place for you to get a good understanding of how politics works at a local level. She also worked in state politics and, clearly, here in the Australian parliament, but she had the capacity to raise her eyes when it was needed to address those things at the appropriate level and, clearly, as we've discussed here today, to achieve success in all those things. It's fitting that the things she didn't get the opportunity to reflect on—her goals, aspirations and ambitions from her first speech—are appropriately recognised by us here today in the chamber in acknowledging not only her life but also her contribution to this place and the way she went about her work here, whether that was here in the chamber, in committees or in Senate estimates, or just her capacity to interact across the parliament, whether that was with her own side, with the crossbench or with those here on this side of the chamber. It's appropriately being reflected by the comments being made here today. Quite frankly, this place could use more people of the like of Kimberley Kitching.

I extend to Andrew and to Kimberley's mum and dad, brother, family and friends my sincerest condolences. I also extend my condolences to those on the other side and to the Labor family. As I said before, the loss of someone serving with us shakes us; I want to acknowledge that. I say to Andrew: I trust that you and your family can gain some comfort in the very warm words being expressed in the chamber here today and in the community more broadly at this time of loss for you. My sincerest condolences. May Kimberley rest in peace.


No comments