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16.03.22

Kitching treated poorly by Labor

Next Monday, March 21, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne, overwhelming sadness will meet the hypocrisy of the Labor Party head-on.

The funeral of Kimberley Kitching will be livestreamed at the Tobin Brothers’ website.

You search Kimberley’s name in the funeral service search bar.

Without overstating it, Kimberley Kitching was a star in the political firmament, which can’t be said of many, highly intelligent, well-educated and gutsy.

Her early passing has wrought great sadness to most who knew her well and to those who admired her resilience and unsparing efforts to make sure the right things were done; that politics did what it is meant to do, resolve conflict and make the place better than when they entered the political fray.

It will be interesting to see which Labor people show their faces.

The story told by Sharri Markson in Wednesday’s Australian newspaper is completely correct.

How do I know?

I have spoken to those at the centre of this storm.

Put simply, the Magnitsky Act had been passed by the US Congress in 2012 after a Russian tax lawyer named Magnitsky was arrested, tortured and killed for the “crime” of exposing corrupt Russian officials.

Kimberley Kitching, Michael Danby and Bill Shorten sought a meeting with Penny Wong to enact parallel Magnitsky laws in this country.

Penny Wong was not only opposed, but argued, “Over my dead body will we have Magnitsky.”

Not to be deterred, Kimberley Kitching broke bread with politicians on the other side.

Marise Payne sent a reference for the Magnitsky Act to the Human Rights Subcommittee, a bilateral committee with representation from both parties.

Knowing that there would be hearings into the proposed legislation, Kimberley Kitching, along with Michael Danby, decided to throw in some heavyweight international support, that included people like Amal Clooney and Geoffrey Robertson, the international human rights lawyer, and Bill Browder, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign.

She convinced them to testify at the Parliamentary hearings; and so they did, urging Australian politicians to introduce new laws.

Can you imagine Kimberley Kitching’s astonishment when Penny Wong then gave a media interview in which she called for the Magnitsky Laws to be introduced, the very laws she had relentlessly opposed.

Put simply, Penny Wong tabled Kimberley Kitching’s bill having previously treated her Parliamentary colleague abominably.

To add to her troubles, Kimberley sat on the Senate Finance Public Administration Committee which received a submission, indeed allegation, that there had been an incident between two Parliamentary staffers and it was clear that this was related to the Higgins alleged rape.

Kimberley Kitching, a woman with a very distinctive moral compass, believed that the incident was about to be weaponised, played out for political advantage.

She gave a warning to the former Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds, that Reynolds may be the subject of a political attack.

It is a matter of fact that Linda Reynolds, under such attack, told Labor senators that Kimberley Kitching had warned her about the attack.

Sharri Markson reports, accurately, that Kimberley Kitching was summoned to a meeting with Kristina Keneally.

Kristina Keneally accused Kimberley of leaking to the Liberal Party and was hit with all sorts of accusations.

She was given no right of reply.

Kimberley felt betrayed by her own people and by Linda Reynolds.

It was clear that she was stressed and very anxious about her future.

It contributed to health problems from which she was already suffering.

I know that Kimberley Kitching’s achievements earnt her the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights award, presented in November, in London, last year.

She apparently asked the Labor Party to fund an economy flight to London to accept the award.

The request was refused by the Deputy Leader, Richard Marles.

Kimberley Kitching paid her own way and received no praise and no recognition from her own party.

Any decent and civilised person would understand the kind of pressure and stress this placed on a talented and gifted young woman.

Indeed, when Anthony Albanese reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet in January, Kimberley Kitching was demoted.

On the eve of her death, she was concerned at the very prospect that she wouldn’t win Senate reindorsement which would have enabled her to continue her courageous and selfless political career.

As Sharri Markson rightly says, “Ostracised from the Party she had always loved.”

I go back to the beginning at St Patrick’s Cathedral, at 2:30pm on Monday.

Many will gather with a sense of overwhelming grief at the death of a distinguished and not properly acknowledged Australian, Kimberley Kitching.

It is to be hoped that the hypocrisy within the Labor Party will not be expressed by the occupation of the pews by some of its hierarchy.

I say to them, stay away.

You weren’t there when Kimberley wanted you.

And if this is a measure of the wilfulness, spitefulness and retribution of which the Labor Party is capable, then try to convince an Australian electorate that they should vote for you.