Senator-elect Kimberley Jane Elizabeth Kitching just loves winning. When it happens, her mouth literally explodes ear-to-ear with a supercilious Luna Park-like grin – as if she has just swallowed the last note of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.
She was doing it a lot on Tuesday night when a joint sitting of the Victorian Parliament unanimously endorsed her to replace the retiring Stephen Conroy as the Labor Party’s nominated Senator for Victoria in the Federation Chamber of the 45th Parliament.
The comely Kimberley beat a field of seven other women in a factional bloodbath that is quaintly referred to as a “contest” in the Victorian ALP earlier this month.
Without a single vote being cast in her direction by the Australian people, Kitching wins a plum six-year sinecure on the not-so-squeezy red leather Senate seats – and the fancy Roman honorific of “Senator”.
The base emolument of $199,040 per annum for this blue riband gig is enough to make anyone smile.
This manna from heaven comes courtesy of Kimberley’s close association with the Archangel Bill Shorten and the smiling lady was quick to acknowledge the debt she (and her weird-science husband Andrew Landeryou) owe to the ALP’s winged-warrior.
“Labor will win the next federal election and Bill Shorten will become our next long-serving Labor Prime Minister,” thundered the diminutive Senator from the great state of Victoria, underneath the statue of Queen Victoria, in Queen’s Hall on Tuesday night.
Given that Bob Hawke held the Treasury benches for Labor from 1983 to 1991 and that Lady Macbeth’s witches say that Shorten will hold them from 2019 to at least 2027; a 58-year-old Senator Kitching will be feeling free to produce her very own field marshal’s baton from her knapsack in 2028.
Already, the Queensland-born former Health Services Union activist has unleashed the dogs of war.
“I’ve been warned I’ll face a tsunami of slander and spite from some opponents when arriving in Canberra.
“Fortunately, I’ve learned to swim through some pretty treacherous waters over the years. Queenslanders are all taught to swim and I’m a proud holder of a Bronze Medallion.
“Through it all, I’m going to remind myself of the inspiring words of Michelle Obama in recent days, ‘when they go low, we go high’; and that’s just how I’m going to play it in Canberra.
“I’m going to stand up to those nasty people throwing their weight around. And that’s how I’m going to play it as the most junior member of the Opposition,” said Queen Boudica as she wheeled her chariot to face the Romans on the other side of the Senate.
Then came the really good bits in the short acceptance speech; they emphasised the importance of being Kimberley to the party toadies in Toad Hall:
“I enjoy reading the words of an American religious leader who declared that: ‘The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.
“‘We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not necessarily life to years.
“‘We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.
“‘We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not defeated prejudice’,” she said.
Rather, it should have been “he said” as the words were taken directly from a speech given 21-years-ago by a Washington pastor called Dr Bob Moorehead in 1995.
Alas, the good Pastor Bob – who ministered to the Overlake Christian Church in Redmont, Washington for 29 years – was strong on the strengths of the spirit but a little less discerning on the temptations of the flesh.
He resigned in 1998 amid allegations of impropriety. The church initially exonerated Moorehead, but a year later they withdrew their support, saying they had discovered new evidence that showed he violated normal standards of conduct.
Let us pray that the lesson is not lost on the new Senator from Victoria.
Terence Maher is a former editor of The Melbourne Times.
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