Senate debates

Monday, 28 March 2022


Kitching, Senator Kimberley Jane Elizabeth

1:54 pm

Photo of Anthony ChisholmAnthony Chisholm (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I join my colleagues paying tribute to Kimberley Kitching—'Kimba' as those close to her fondly called her. My thoughts and prayers are with Andrew, her parents, her brother and her extended family and friends. My thoughts are also with Kimberley's staff, who were always considerate, thoughtful and busy, which is very much a reflection on their boss.

Her funeral service was a beautiful tribute to Kimberley with magnificent eulogies led by Andrew, her father and Kimba's great friend Bill Shorten, and a moving mass led by His Grace Archbishop Comensoli. As someone who seeks comfort from their Catholic faith during times of grief, the service was a fitting tribute to Kimberley in honour of her life.

I associate myself with the remarks of my colleagues and particularly those who have spoken about her many parliamentary achievements and roles. Like Senator Farrell, I had not met Kimberley prior to her entering the Senate, but anyone who had been active in the Labor Party over the last 20 years had heard of Kimberley. I had only been elected months earlier myself, so I'd benefited from the Senate school that was run for new senators to learn the ropes. Understanding this induction probably wasn't as thorough for someone filling a casual vacancy, I made contact with Kimberley to provide some of the material I had been provided as a new senator. Whilst Kimberley was appreciative, I also got a sense that she had it all under control, already knew how to navigate the system and, more importantly, what she wanted to achieve. As someone who after almost six years still doesn't feel comfortable in this place, that is something I admired in Kimberley.

I think it was Kimberley's first question in question time where she took a point of order. From memory, it wasn't just any point of order like the standard relevance we often rely on; it was actually a relatively obscure one that demonstrated Kimberley had already mastered the Odgers' Senate practice book that many of us still don't understand today. As many of my colleagues have remarked, Kimberley belonged in the Senate and thrived in the role from day one.

One of life's great missions is to find something you are good at and enjoy doing. I think if you contribute to society it makes it even more worthwhile. It is something that I often reflect on when someone passes. Unfortunately, I've had to think about this more often than I would like in recent months. With some indulgence: my mum passed away just before Christmas, and I had to reflect on her life, which she dedicated to helping others—that was my mum's great mission. In recent days, I've had to reflect on the life of one of my oldest schoolmates, Paul, who is battling aggressive cancer at the moment. I visited him twice over the weekend and believe that his great mission is one of being a fantastic husband and father. He has many talents and achievements, but I get the sense it is those two roles that have been his great mission in life.

It is with Kimberley not hard to work out what her great mission in life was, and that was being in this place. As a Labor senator for Victoria, Kimberley was born for it and didn't waste a day of her Senate life. So there is a sadness that someone whose great mission was to serve in this place has had her career cut so tragically short at the age of 52. It is a sadness I observed with Kimberley's parents attending the funeral of their daughter; a sadness for Andrew—and anyone who knows Kimberley understood that Andrew and Kimberley were such a devoted couple, through thick and thin, as Andrew so eloquently pointed out in his eulogy; and a sadness for Kimberley's extended family and her so many loyal friend who will miss her so deeply.

There is a sadness for those who benefited from her advocacy across her life and for what was to come. Given the ability Kimberley had demonstrated to achieve from opposition, imagine what she could have achieved if our party was to one day get the opportunity on the government benches. It's a sadness for what Kimberley could have achieved for the benefit of the broader Labor movement and those who value freedom and democracy around the world.

Rightfully, her legacy will live on in many ways. One of the things I think about is those 30 people Kimberley helped rescue out of Kabul that many of my colleagues have mentioned and the opportunity that those people will have with their families to contribute to society because of the work Kimberley did to free them. Using her talents and skills will be such a demonstrative way to demonstrate Kimberley's ongoing legacy. My thoughts and prayers are with Kimberley's family and her many friends. Vale, Kimberley Kitching.


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