Due to production problems, today’s issue of Media Watch Dog will come out on Monday 14 March at around the usual time of 4 pm. MWD intends to resume publication on Friday next week.

For now, MWD publishes a brief obituary on Senator Kimberley Kitching (1970-2022).

VALE KIMBERLEY KITCHING (1970—2022)

Senator Kimberley Kitching was a good friend of The Sydney Institute. She addressed the Institute on one occasion in a discussion on religious freedom and attended some of the Institute’s functions including the talk in early 2019 by (then) Labor MP Michael Danby on the topic of “How to confront the new authoritarian powers without going to war”. Senator Kitching took up this issue when Michael Danby left the House of Representatives.

Kimberley Kitching was an unusual politician for the modern age.  She was not afraid to state her views – some of which were unfashionable inside the Labor Party and the Coalition.  Senator Kitching, though relatively young, was an old-style social democrat and never a leftist.  She was proud to oppose authoritarian and totalitarian regimes – including communist ones.  And she believed in social justice and human rights.

Above all, Senator Kitching was a pluralist – an increasingly unfamiliar position at a time of the march of the cancel culture – and was happy to be in the presence of, and argue with, people with whom she disagreed.

Kimberley Kitching had many friends across the political divide.  But she had opponents too – some of whom objected to the fact that she did not always state predictable left-of-centre views or toe the party-line.  Shortly before Senator Kitching’s death by apparent heart attack, her pre-selection as a Victorian Labor senator was under attack from factions within the Victorian labour movement.  This was barely covered by members of the Canberra Press Gallery – who would have been outraged if, say, Senator Penny Wong’s pre-selection was under challenge.  The able Senator Wong is a member of Labor’s left.

What was unusual about Kitching the politician is that she had a sense of humour. I was on the ABC TV Insiders  panel soon after she won pre-selection to replace Labor Senator Stephen Conroy.  The date was Sunday 16 October 2016.  The panel was asked to comment about Kimberley Kitching’s pre-selection.  Panelists Fleur Anderson and Malcolm Farr opposed the appointment and presenter Barrie Cassidy did not offer any obvious support.

I did not concur – describing Kitching as a “pretty sassy kind of person” who was “good on television” and added:  “I reckon she’d make a fine senator.”

When Kimberley Kitching was formally appointed to fill the casual Senate vacancy consequent on Stephen Conroy’s retirement – she invited her supporters to a small celebration – signing off with “Keep sassy”.

The Labor Party, in Victoria and elsewhere, needs parliamentarians like Kimberley Kitching. Very few relatively junior politicians leave a mark.  Senator Kitching did – especially due to her role in passing what is termed the Magnitsky Act – which provides a legal basis for imposing sanctions on foreign government officials who are involved in human rights abuses.  It is this legislation that underpins the Australian government’s sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia.  A real achievement, to be sure.

Kimberley Kitching – Requiescat in Pace

Gerard Henderson

Until next Monday