Top meanie’s callous put-down

Are you going to keep dying your hair?”

– During the Mean Girls’ abusive war on Labor’s Kimberley Kitching, underappreciated style icon and beauty Penny Wong reportedly taunted the late senator about her appearance. “Penny went apeshit,” a source told the Australian Financial Review. “She ranted at her for an hour.”

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16 Responses to Top meanie’s callous put-down

  1. C.L. says:

    Just short of two years ago, Kimberley Kitching got a phone call that marked the start of unpleasant treatment by her colleagues that only ended with her death, according to those closest to her.

    Her boss, Labor’s Senate leader and foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, rang on May 19, 2020, to complain about Kitching’s involvement in a Sydney Morning Herald and The Age article criticising the Victorian Labor government’s decision to join the Chinese government’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

    “It is bad policy and bad optics,” Senator Kitching was quoted saying.

    Accusing Kitching of disloyalty to the Labor Party, Wong threatened to rebuke her publicly, according to one of Kitching’s closest associates.

    “Penny went apes—,” the source said on Friday. “She ranted at her for an hour. ‘You have made a big mistake,’ she said, and threatened to accuse her of treachery.

    “They didn’t really talk a lot after that.”

    Career threatened

    Wong’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. The Labor senator a week ago acknowledged she had apologised for telling Kitching in 2019 that Kitching couldn’t understand children’s concerns about global warming because she didn’t have any.

    Wong blamed Kitching for leaking that conversation – unfairly, according to Kitching’s supporters – which made Wong determined to remove her from Labor’s Senate tactics committee, which determines how the opposition conducts parliamentary business, including ministerial questions, Labor sources said.

    Eventually, Kitching’s position as a Victorian senator was threatened, creating stress that may have contributed to a heart attack that is assumed to have killed her on March 10, her friends and family members have said.

    Reports that Kitching complained she was being bullied by what she referred to as three Labor “mean girls” – Wong and senators Katy Gallagher and Kristina Keneally – have triggered a debate over whether the Labor Party should conduct an inquiry into her treatment. It has been used by the Morrison government to score political points.

    No inquiry

    On Sunday, Gallagher said an inquiry would be pointless because Kitching wasn’t alive to make any allegations. Labor leader Anthony Albanese last year called for an inquiry into a rape allegation against former Liberal Attorney-General Christian Porter even though Porter’s accuser died in 2019.

    “I’m not aware of a complaint,” Gallagher said on Sky News. “I don’t think one has been received, written or otherwise. So, it is difficult to know what you would be inquiring into.”

    Kitching’s alleged treatment by her colleagues appears to have been an example of the tough nature of partisan politics, and demonstrates how politicians can be as brutal towards their colleagues as their opponents.

    Kitching’s position on Labor’s Victorian Senate ticket wasn’t determined when she died. Kitching did not expect the party to end her political career by demoting her, according to a source close to her, but felt the possibility was used over the past year to unsettle her personally.

    Slights and obstructions

    At the same time, the junior frontbencher experienced a series of slights and obstructions that made her work life difficult and unpleasant, according to people who knew her.

    During Melbourne’s long lockdowns, the Senate tactics committee would not hold video-meetings, which meant she could not participate, according to a friend, even though she was deputy manager of opposition business in the Senate.

    No-one called to let her know, last January, when her portfolio changed from government accountability – which covered swaths of the bureaucracy – to government services and the NDIS, which was concentrated on welfare payments.

    Senator Tim Ayers, an ally of Wong’s, was assigned to monitor her and sometimes wouldn’t acknowledge her presence at meetings and the two parliamentary committees they were members of, the source said. (Ayers has said he won’t discuss Kitching.)

    Gallagher sometimes turned her back on Kitching when Kitching was speaking in internal meetings, according to the source. (Gallagher’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison is often criticised on social media for a photograph that shows him sitting with his back to Labor MP Tanya Plibersek while she speaks in Parliament.

    Wong, who wore her hair short and naturally gray, allegedly and pointedly made a reference to Kitching’s frequent change of hairstyles.

    “Are you going to keep dying your hair?” Wong asked, according to a close associate of Kitching’s.

    ’They blanked her,” the source said. “There were a series of microaggressions. She was basically being frozen out. She was a pro and dealt with it the best she could.”

    Disloyalty?

    Kitching’s willingness to advocate foreign policy positions independently of Wong contributed to the tension. The Labor Party was also wary of Kitching’s friendly relations with Liberal MPs and right-wing commentators. Wong is from the left faction. Kitching is from the right.

    The distrust hardened when then Defence Minister Linda Reynolds told Wong and Keneally last June that Kitching had tipped her off about plans to publicise allegations of a rape in Reynold’s office, which would turn out to involve a junior press secretary, Brittany Higgins.

    Kitching was then removed from Labor’s tactics committee.

    In a seven-page letter Kitching wrote, but did not send, to Keneally on June 21, 2021, she emphatically denied warning Reynolds, who is now the minister for government services and the NDIS.

    “I think that it is self-evident to everyone who has observed Senator Reynolds in this workplace that she is not in good mental health and has not reacted to entirely reasonable and orthodox questioning from Labor senators in a way we might reasonably expect of a minister of the Crown when asked about her conduct in office, her treatment of her own staff and related issues,” Kitching wrote.

    “I take no pleasure in making that observation about someone’s distress and I hope she recovers but her state of mind is clearly an issue here.”

    Liberal MPs still insist Reynolds was forewarned by Kitching in the Senate chamber in the first week of February, 2021. The rape allegation was first reported February 15, that year, by the news.com.au website.

    Reynolds has said she is not allowed to comment on the Higgins matter because another of her former advisers, Bruce Lehrmann, has been charged with rape. He has pleaded not guilty.

    As for China’s Belt and Road initiative, Foreign Minister Marise Payne last April said the federal government would veto Victoria’s participation. Wong agreed with the decision.

    —————–
    by Aaron Patrick, Australian Financial Review

  2. NoFixedAddress says:

    So the Belt & Road agreements are hidden under the pretext of a National Cabinet..???

    How many other States have similar hidden agreements!?

  3. Lee says:

    On Sunday, Gallagher said an inquiry would be pointless because Kitching wasn’t alive to make any allegations. Labor leader Anthony Albanese last year called for an inquiry into a rape allegation against former Liberal Attorney-General Christian Porter even though Porter’s accuser died in 2019.

    Which is exactly the comparison I was making a week or so ago, and for which Ed besmirched me.

  4. rosie says:

    I’m kinda glad this story still has legs.

  5. and says:

    … lesbian style icon and celebrated beauty Penny Wong…

    Benny dresses in the “early-1900s old geezer” style. I’m guessing she also wears braces to keep them pants up. Now, admittedly, in the lespian community this could indeed be considered “chic”.

    New perfume: Benny Wrong’s Essence de Boules à Mites

  6. Terry says:

    Her boss, Labor’s Senate leader and foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong…

    You see, I thought they were colleagues. Equals in the Senate. Representatives of the people/states, and sent to that place to review and amend bad legislation. Maybe even curtail the ambitions of wanton, petty tyrants, and the like – quaint, I know.

    That one is “the boss” is just one more example of a grossly dysfunctional political system.

    Disloyalty?

    …of the selective kind no doubt. If only Wong and her colleagues (cabal?) took umbrage towards disloyalty (at best, and treason at worst) against Australia and its people with the same enthusiasm they demand obedience to “tha pardee”.

    These people, apparently, are the best we have to offer.

    A total shitshow.

  7. Cassie of Sydney says:

    Penny Wong is a bitch.

  8. calli says:

    Microagressions? Berating a colleague for an hour is demented stuff.

    Regardless of gender, regardless of seniority or even circumstances.

    If Wong did this, she should go. She is not fit to serve the Australian people in any capacity.

  9. Buccaneer says:

    This story only has legs because the bastardry in the alp is so bad even their own team cant abide by it any longer. Usually they clam up and brazen it out with a compliant media doing their bidding. Let’s not pretend any of that will change here. They would prefer to keep that culture even if it means losing the election.

  10. rosie says:

    Agree Calli berating for an hour.
    How can that not be bullying.

  11. Cassie of Sydney says:

    “If Wong did this, she should go. She is not fit to serve the Australian people in any capacity.”

    Agree….but the reality is that she will be a senior minister in our next government.

    Just sit back and contemplate that.

  12. Old Lefty says:

    I put as much trust in Kenneally’s assertions that this is untrue as I do in her avowals that she had no idea that her valued mentors Obeid and Tripodi were corrupt.

  13. C.L. says:

    Agree….but the reality is that she will be a senior minister in our next government.

    Mmyes. Foreign Affairs. Hel-lo.
    Threatened by the charismatic, multilingual Kimba much?

  14. cuckoo says:

    As of yesterday (Fierra Concerravanti-Wells) the narrative is now “There are no mean girls in the ALP! And anyway, the Libs have got them too!”

  15. cuckoo says:

    I did of course mean Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Where did I put those meds?

  16. Shy Ted says:

    Should be retitled 2 mean girls and 1 mean um, er, chap?

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