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Anthony Albanese Avoids Investigation Into Labor Bullying Culture After Senator’s Death

Anthony Albanese Avoids Investigation Into Labor Bullying Culture After Senator’s Death

Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese avoided declaring his support for an investigation into whether there is a culture of bullying in the Labor Party after the death of Sen. Kimberley Kitching, 52.

After allegations emerged that Kitching faced bullying by three senior female senators in the lead up to her death, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on March 15 cautioned Labor not to dismiss the allegations, calling them “distressing.”

“These are very distressing claims and I don’t think they can be dismissed,” Morrison said while in Perth.

On March 16 when asked about whether an investigation should occur Albanese instead choose to take exception to the use of the term “mean girls” which News Corp’s The Australian first reported as a term the late senator allegedly used to refer to Labor senators Penny Wong, Katy Gallagher, and Kristina Keneally.

Anthony Albanese Avoids Investigation Into Labor Bullying Culture After Senator’s Death
Australian Labor Party members Sen. Penny Wong, Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese, Federal Members of Parliament Tanya Plibersek, and Sen. Kristina Keneally celebrate International Womens Day at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Feb. 24, 2021. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Speaking to reporters, Albanese said he found it “astonishing” to get a question “using the term mean girls” in 2022, saying he found it “extraordinarily disrespectful to describe strong, articulate, principled women” like Wong, Gallagher and Keneally that way.

“I find it astonishing and a throwback,” he added.

Details of the pattern of hostility Kitching allegedly faced by party colleagues in the lead up to her heart attack on March 10 were first revealed by The Australian, citing many unnamed sources.

The Australian reported that Kitching had allegedly been accused of disloyalty, was kicked off the daily tactics committee meetings, was denied her ability to ask questions in the Senate during Question Time, and that Wong took credit for the Magnitsky Act Kitching had championed, and more.

Kitching, who was a member of the Labor Right faction, played a pivotal role in Australia’s implementation of the Magnitsky Act, which gives the government the power to sanction overseas human rights violators.

She was also honoured for her efforts with the prestigious 2021 Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Award in London, which she ended up paying for herself after the Australian Labor Party refused to fund air tickets.

The Australian reported that it was when, in 2018, Kitching and then Labor leader Bill Shorten and fellow Labor MP Michael Danby made their pitch to Wong about the Magnitsky Act that her relationship with senior Labor figures began to sour.

In fact, The Australian reported that Kitching told the outlet during an interview in February that when they pitched the idea to Wong she said: “Over my dead body will we have Magnitsky.”

Queensland Senate candidate Drew Pavlou, who much like Kitching is a China hawk, took to Twitter on March 15 to support the account, saying Kitching had personally told him what Wong had said.

“I will never forget hearing that, it shocked me to the core,” Pavlou said.

Anthony Albanese Avoids Investigation Into Labor Bullying Culture After Senator’s Death
Sen. Penny Wong (R), beside Sen. Kimberley Kitching (L), reacts during the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Budget Estimates 2021–22 at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on June 2, 2021. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

The accusations of bullying have been both backed up and denied by current and former Labor colleagues.

Gallagher said the allegations were not true while Wong said she would not respond at this time.

“Senator Kitching has passed away. That was tragic and shocking and many in the Labor family are grieving and her loved ones are grieving. So I’m simply not going to engage in commentary about some of the allegations which have been raised, even if I and others disagree with them,” Wong said.

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek has said Kitching’s death shouldn’t be “politicised” and denied ever having witnessed the late senator being bullied.

She did not wish to be drawn on questions when interviewed on Sky News, saying “we haven’t had her funeral yet.”

“I don’t want to keep raking over this terrible loss and treating it like it’s a political issue … we need to focus on supporting her family,” she said.

Meanwhile, former Labor MP Danby has told Sky News Kitching’s treatment was “nothing short of bullying” and that he was “heartbroken” by her passing.

“I can tell you, during the last year she certainly felt the stress of having her senate preselection dangled over her head by a cabal of Lilliputians,” Danby said, referring to one of the issues that allegedly contributed to her stress in the lead up to her death.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has said the issue has revealed what things are really like in Labor.

“The Labor Party likes to portray itself as the party to represent its women … that could not be further from the truth,” she told Sky News.

“What we’re seeing being played out now is really what the Labor Party, and potentially the Greens, are really about.

“They don’t stand up for women, they don’t support women, and they need to,” she said.

Original link : Anthony Albanese Avoids Investigation Into Labor Bullying Culture After Senator’s Death