Vale Kimberley Kitching - Speech, House of Representatives


In her first speech to parliament, on 9 November 2016, Kimberley Kitching described herself as a swimmer thrown in the deep end. She was somebody who brought a powerful voice to the Labor caucus. It has to be said that she was from quite a different part of the Labor Party than me. She came from the crucible of Victorian factional politics; I'm an independent from the ACT. She named her dogs after Ronald Reagan and his wife, she was a member of the Wolverines, and she was an unabashed defender of Israel. Yet I greatly admired her and enjoyed her company.

I shared her passion for the Labor Party, for workers' rights, and for ridding the world of prejudice. I loved the way she expressed what it is to be a trade union leader in her very first speech.

She said:

I will never forget the call I got from a mother of four, a union member whose supervisor had unilaterally imposed a roster change without notice. She was sobbing in despair; she could barely get the words out. English was not her first language, but the agony and the desperation in her voice did not need words. The change in roster meant she would no longer be able to pick up her kids. And if she could not hold down her job she would not be able to feed them. On the other end of the line, I did what union reps do all over the country every day: I listened, I reassured and I promised to use every bit of strength the union had to solve her problem. And we did.

And in that first speech to parliament Kimberley spoke too about the importance of ensuring that what she called 'the peddlers of prejudice' could not 'deceive Australians against their own interests'. So yes, I shared much in common, in a values sense, with her.

But I also loved being in a political party that has the breadth of somebody with Kimberley's views and somebody with my views. That's what it is to be a party of government. And the longer I serve in the Labor caucus the more I enjoy and admire that diversity. A party of government must be a broad church.

Kimberley was a wonderful person to be around. There are so many others who have said that. She had a love of champagne and she had a sparkling wit. And she was, I think, the best French speaker in the parliament. That's gone and, with it, the opportunity for me to pull out my very worst high-school French and add it to whatever interchange we were having by text message or Christmas card or in person. She's left an extraordinary legacy: the work that she did on the Magnitsky laws; her passionate, personal efforts to get people out of Afghanistan as the regime suddenly fell; and her work in Senate estimates, which broke several significant stories.

As Bill Shorten has so beautifully put it, Senate estimates was, for Kimberley, like running onto the MCG. I can only imagine the pain that her parents, Leigh and Bill, and her brother, Ben, will be feeling, the pain too of those who were especially close to her—yourself, Deputy Speaker Dick, and Bill Shorten, who spoke so movingly at her funeral and in the parliament—and, of course, her husband, Andrew Landeryou. As Bill put it in his eulogy, 'We're all in the blast zone of Kimberley's loss, but Andrew Landeryou is at ground zero.' It's that pain that we understand, acknowledge and know, no matter how the effluxion of time, will never be truly healed.

Andrew, just know that Kimba made a big impact on so many of us in a personal sense and in a policy sense. She was a true and treasured part of the Labor caucus, and she will be dearly missed.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.