Anthony Albanese will seek to set up an award in the name of late senator Kimberley Kitching, as the prime minister accused the opposition leader of being in hiding following her death.
Following Senator Kitching‘s funeral on Monday, Mr Albanese wrote to Labor’s national executive to ask for the establishment of a Kimberley Kitching Human Rights Award in recognition of her parliamentary work.
He said in the letter the award would go to “a member of the party who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the advancement of human rights in Australia or globally”.
It would be presented at ALP national conferences, which take place every three years.
Senator Kitching died earlier this month from a suspected heart attack, aged 52.
In the wake of her death, allegations surfaced the late Senator had been bullied and ostracised by Labor MPs, particularly the party’s Senate leadership team.
While Mr Albanese has pledged to examine the party’s internal processes and make improvements, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused the opposition leader of being “gutless” on going to ground after the bullying allegations surfaced.
Speaking to reporters in Cairns, Mr Morrison said Mr Albanese’s promise of a review would not be the end of the matter.
“Serious allegations have been made … about a toxic culture within the Labor Party, which the leader of the Labor Party Anthony Albanese is in hiding and won’t address,” he said.
“He can’t just dismiss away hard issues, and that’s not what prime ministers do.”
The prime minister did, however, welcome news of the award being set up in Senator Kitching‘s name, saying it would be fitting recognition of her work.
During her funeral on Monday, Senator Kitching‘s husband of more than 20 years, Andrew Landeryou, made reference to the “unpleasantness of a cantankerous cabal, not all of them in parliament, that was aimed at Kimba”.
Labor MP Peter Khalil said the eulogy touched on politics being a tough game.
“When someone stands up like that on principle, you always get people attacking you and resisting you, and so I thought Andrew’s eulogy was really beautiful,” he told Sky News.
“We are grieving as a party. Many people who worked and were friends with Kimberley are feeling a lot of pain and emotion, raw emotion.”
Mr Albanese and a cast of federal Labor MPs, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Defence Minister Peter Dutton, Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews all attended the service.
Also present was former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott and secretary of the Victorian branch of the CFMEU John Setka.