Senate Farewell to Senator Kimberley Kitching

 

Senator STOKER (Queensland—Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations) (12:43): I rise to make a small contribution in memory of Senator Kitching. Senator Kitching was a principled, kind and intelligent parliamentarian. She was warm, gentle and decent. Her decency, her trustworthiness, her fidelity to ideas and principle meant she was effective in working across the aisle to advance what she believed was in the national interest. She and I came to become friends in that context. Along with colleagues like Senator Paterson, Mr Hastie and Mr Byrne, we worked together often to ensure that Australia's interests were protected, despite the changing geopolitical environment, even though—and Senator Paterson might remember this—in the early days this was mocked by some corners of our respective parties. We were, together, able to raise awareness of important threats to Australia's sovereignty and to help make Australia safer. While Kimberley was so very loyal to her party, and fierce in debate, she was capable of rising above the tribalism that so often characterises this place. This job is hard, it is exposed, and the expression of vulnerability that is so vital for good mental and physical health is harshly penalised. Many have commented today on Kimberley's beaming smile and how her enthusiasm could be contagious; but if we are honest, friends, we know those big smiles often hid a sadness and were sometimes a necessary protective device in an environment that can often be harsh and, at times, cruel. The realities of the human experience don't fit well into the black and white of the sound bites that are chased in this place; but Kimberley was courageous in difficulty, and, though she was quickwitted and intelligent and bright, she never used it to wound. It's part of the reason debate with her in this chamber was always such a joy—and she was no less effective for that grace. Andrew, I know your life will never be the same. I hope you will have peace, despite your grief, knowing hers was a life well lived. To Professor and Mrs Kitching, I'm so sorry you've had to bury the daughter you raised and educated with so much love. To staff, I hope the time you've had with Senator Kitching puts you in good stead for what's ahead. It's my sincere hope that this place will become kinder, fairer, less tribal and more nuanced as part of Kimberley's enormous legacy. Kimberley Jane—I'm Amanda Jane, and we would often laugh together that people of a certain age were either Janes or Louises in the middle—may God rest your beautiful soul. We'll always claim you as a Queenslander.