The late Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching was farewelled yesterday in a Melbourne at St Patrick’s Cathedral where she married her husband two decades earlier.
“It feels like yesterday looking down on a grey Derby Day that I saw her walking in. Her customary 45 minutes late, looking absolutely radiant, and as she did, the sun streamed down directly on her as she stepped toward our married life,” said her husband, Andrew Landeryou, during his eulogy for Kitching, nicknamed ‘Kimba’.
Ms Kitching died unexpectedly of a heart attack last week, shocking the political world.
Since her death, allegations have come to light – many of them originating from Kitching herself – of bullying within the Labor Party that left Kitching working in a high-stress environment.
In accusations denied by those involved, Kitching referred to Labor Senators Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally, and Katy Gallagher as the ‘Mean Girls’. They were all in attendance at the funeral. The revelation has proved to be a PR disaster for Labor Leader Anthony Albanese in the lead up to the federal election, especially after he mistakenly blamed the press for the ‘Mean Girls’ label.
At Kitiching’s funeral, her husband Andrew Landeryou said that she “deserved so much better”.
“Her friends and ferociously loyal staff are angry about how she was treated. There is a lot I could say about the unpleasantness of a cantankerous cabal – not all of them in parliament – that was aimed at Kimba. She deserved so much better.”
Landeryou’s comments add weight to the accounts of bullying issued by Kitching’s close friends that paint the Labor Party in a very different light to their ‘MeToo’ campaign message. Former Labor Leader Bill Shorten broke ranks last week to call out the treatment that Kitching received from her colleagues.
“The simple truth of it is that Kimberley’s political and moral judgment was vastly superior to the small number who opposed her internally,” Landeryou said.
Kimberley Kitching was famous for acting on principle, attracting friends from both sides of the political divide – many of whom were at her funeral yesterday.
Among those in attendance was a representative of the Dalai Lama who offered condolences on behalf of Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile. “Kimberley Kitching was a steadfast supporter and a friend of the Tibetan people. With my prayers, yours sincerely, Dalai Lama.”
Kitching worked tirelessly against the encroachment of China into Australian politics and met the Dalai Lama in 2017.
The question of bullying behaviour and a toxic work environment continues to hang over Labor.