Monday, 28 March 2022
Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth
I would like to make a short contribution on the condolence motion for our colleague Senator Kimberley Kitching. I would like to begin by associating myself with the remarks already made by other senators today. Sadly, this is the second time in this term of parliament that we've had to farewell a sitting senator from this side of the chamber.
Senator Kitching's sudden death, just three weeks ago, was a huge shock to everybody. It is of great sadness and has affected all of us deeply. Nothing can put into words the pain and grief that those who loved her have been going through since her passing. To her family, husband, parents, brother, extended family and friends I offer my most sincere condolences. A sudden and unexpected death brings a unique experience of grief. Without notice or warning, worlds are fractured, and it leaves lives that will never be the same again. The love for and loss of Kimberley were evident in the touching and heartfelt contributions made this time last week at the service in Melbourne.
I first met Kimberley on her election to the Senate in 2016. Since that time I've got to know a woman of great intellect, passion and belief. She was strong and forthright in her views. She was an eloquent orator, surefooted and poised. She was also expansive. She made a difference. She had an impact and she achieved much in her short time in this place. She was hardworking, focused and committed. I'm a teetotaller during sitting weeks, and she is the only senator who has ever managed to convince me to have a drink on a sitting evening. She ended up serving me my first ever martini, in a very stylish martini glass. She was truly shocked that I'd got that far through life without ever having one.
Since Kimberley's passing I have reflected deeply on my relationship with her, and I will continue to do this. Whilst our policy areas didn't often cross paths—hers specialising in foreign affairs and defence and mine following more mundane budget numbers—I have spent time recently reading her speeches in this place. I came across a speech which would turn out to be her final remarks in this place. It was a short contribution speaking on an economics committee report about manufacturing in Australia. In that speech she managed to paint a picture of a domestic policy challenge through an international lens. She spoke about the need to increase sovereign capability in manufacturing, about international challenges, and about the importance of jobs of the future and the importance of getting the policy right. She was a powerful orator and wove a deeper narrative than most contributions in this place when speaking to rather mundane committee reports. Her final remarks were a trademark contribution: forward looking, optimistic and solutions focused.
A lot has been said and written about Kimberley since her passing. Those who knew her best describe a loving person generous of spirit, tenacious and loyal, fierce and formidable—a person of strength and purpose. She forged strong relationships wherever she went, and the strength of her relationships right across this chamber is testament to that. We also saw this at Senator Kitching's funeral last Monday, with people from across the political spectrum and from all sectors of public life coming together to celebrate her, her professional contributions and the friendships that she had made, all in a packed cathedral of mourners in Melbourne.
In closing, I wish to quote Senator Kitching's remarks in this place in speaking to the condolence motion for our colleague Senator Alex Gallacher. She said:
The death of a colleague while they still serve here in the Senate is a reminder to all of us that our time on Earth is limited and that we should never waste a day, or indeed a minute, here.
Again, I offer my most sincere condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and staff on her passing.