Labor Senator dies aged 52

Senator Kitching suffered a suspected heart attack in Melbourne today, with shattered colleagues paying tribute tonight.

A former lawyer, Senator Kitching served the Senate from 2016 after filling the seat vacated by Stephen Conroy’s retirement.

Senator Kimberley Kitching during a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House in February. (Alex Ellinghausen)

At the time of her death, Senator Kitching was the chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade References Committee.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese was among those to pay tribute after her death.

“The Labor family is in shock tonight at the tragic news that our friend and colleague Senator Kimberley Kitching has died suddenly in Melbourne,” Mr Albanese wrote on Twitter.

“My sincere condolences to her family.

“Kimberley will be missed by us all.”

Close friend and former federal Labor leader Bill Shorten shared a poignant tribute to Senator Kitching this evening.

“With a desolate heart I share the news that Kimberley Kitching has passed away,” Mr Shorten wrote.

Kimberley suffered a heart problem Thursday evening in Melbourne and passed soon after.

“Repassing is an immense loss to Labor and the nation.

“As well as her innumerable accolades she has been a wonderful friend to myself, my wife Chloe and our family.

“To know Kimberley was to be touched not just by her serene intellect but her incredible warmth and vivacity.

“As a Labor Senator she was relentlessly energetic and conscientious recently resulting in international recognition for her human rights work.

“Our hearts go out to her husband Andrew, her family and loved ones.”

He included a passage from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said he had known Senator Kitching for more than 30 years.

“Words cannot express the sadness of this moment,” he said.

“Kimberly knew what she stood for and she brought a clarity of thought to her role in the Senate that was rare, she was a fierce advocate for all that she believed in.

“The Labor Party, the Senate and the country have lost a unique power.”

Kimberley Kitching served in the Senate from 2016 until her death. (Alex Ellinghausen)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also shared his condolences to Senator Kitching’s loved ones.

“The death of Senator Kimberley Kitching, at just 52, is a deep and terrible shock,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

“Senator Kitching was a serious parliamentarian who had a deep interest in Australia’s national security.

“She had a passion about Australia’s national interest and argued for it.

“She demonstrated that her passion for her country was always greater than any partisan view.

“She clearly loved her country and it genuinely showed.

“I came to greatly respect the way Senator Kitching approached the issues.

“Senator Kitching was a practicing Catholic and we witnessed her authentic faith in the life of the Parliament.

“She followed her conscience and was fearless and I admired that.

“She was respected by those on both sides of the Parliament – she was a parliamentarian in the truest sense.

“Senator Kitching was deeply respected by the Coalition.

“To Senator Kitching’s family I extend the sympathies of the Government.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he was “deeply, genuinely and so terribly upset to hear the tragic news about a dear person and dear friend”.

Senator Kitching was born in Brisbane and moved to Melbourne in 1995.

Earlier today, Senator Kitching had shared a message of support for those affected by flooding in Queensland and NSW.

“My thoughts are with those in New South Wales and Queensland who have lost their homes, businesses, loved ones,” a post on Senator Kitching’s Facebook account read.

“Having grown up in Queensland, I know the chaos floods can cause.

“The footage of community members, flood victims, SES volunteers and ADF personnel stepping up to contribute to the rescue and, in some places, the recovery from the floods, is poignant.

“It reminds me of the camaraderie that defines the Australian character.”

Senator Kitching survived by her husband Andrew.

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