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Senator Penny Wong allegedly told her late Labor colleague Kimberley Kitching ‘if you had children, you might understand’ during a heated exchange in parliament about mass climate protests.
Ms Wong made the stinging comment in 2019 after Ms Kitching argued the party should not support students who ditched school that year to attend nationwide protests against climate change policy, The Australian reported.
‘If you had children, you might understand why there is a climate emergency,’ the South Australian senator is said to have told Ms Kitching.
Her supporters said the comment hurt even more because Ms Kitching, who died at the age of 52 last Thursday from a suspected heart attack, wanted children but physically could not have any.
The stinging comment resurfaced after Ms Wong and fellow Labor senators Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher were labelled ‘mean girls’ in a news report on Wednesday which said they ostracised and were hostile toward Ms Kitching.
Late Labor senator Kimberley Kitching pictured right with ex-cricketer Dean Jones. She died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52 on March 10
The report claimed ALP figures accused Senator Kitching of leaking to the Liberals, removed her from the party’s tactics committee and was ostracised by the senior leadership team.
A close supporter of the Victorian senator said the comment about her lack of children was ‘brutal’.
‘The children thing was particularly grotesque, it was just foul,’ the friend said.
Ms Wong has two children, Hannah and Alexandra, with her partner Sophie Allouache.
The couple used IVF and the same sperm donor to conceive both of their children.
2GB host Ray Hadley has meanwhile demanded Labor leader Anthony Albanese ‘do something about’ Ms Keneally over reports she helped ostracise the late senator.
The presenter said he’s had a ‘gutful’ of the former NSW premier who led Labor to the worst defeat of a sitting government in the state’s history in 2011.
Hadley questioned whether Ms Keneally had an incriminating photo of Mr Albanese which prevented him from properly investigating her.
‘What has Kristina Keneally got on Anthony Albanese, is there a photo no-one knows about that she has possession of,’ he said in a chat with fellow host Ben Fordham shortly before 9am on Thursday.
‘I’ve had a gutful of her. She ruined things for the Labor Party in NSW in 2011 when she lost 32 seats, the worst ever defeat.
‘And all they’ve done since then, the Labor Party, is promote her and promote her and promote her.
‘Albanese, if he’s got a set of balls, he’ll do something about her today.’
Senator Keneally was brought into the senate to fill a casual vacancy after Sam Dastyari’s resignation in 2018.
Mr Albanese made her Shadow Home Affairs Minister in 2019.
Ex-Labor MP Michael Danby, a close friend of Ms Kitching, on Wednesday claimed the senator’s treatment by senior female members crossed a line.
‘It’s a fine line, people are entitled to fierce disagreements, but it was too much in my opinion, what was done crossed that fine line and people should say they’re sorry and they regret it,’ Mr Danby said.
Mr Danby hit out at the Labor right for ‘dangling’ her pre-selection over her head which he said had caused the politician undue stress in the lead-up to her sudden death.
INSIDE PENNY WONG’S BATTLE TO HAVE CHILDREN
The South Australian senator and her partner Sophie Allouache have two daughters.
The long-term couple welcomed their eldest daughter Alexandra in 2011 after she was conceived through IVF.
Their younger daughter Hannah was conceived through the same process by the same man in 2015.
At the time, Ms Wong admitted juggling motherhood with her demanding political career would be challenging.
‘I think we’ve still got so far to go as a society as to how we balance work and family,’ she said.
He also slammed the party’s left wing for being ‘too strong’ and claimed his friend had been punished for not agreeing with other people’s ‘ideological views’.
‘What a disgrace that these people were able to cause her such stress,’ he said.
Wednesday’s report pointed to several instances of the senator being excluded from decision-making by senior party members.
Pictured left to right: Labor senators Katy Gallagher, Kristina Keneally and Penny Wong. Late Labor senator Kimberley Kitching felt ostracised by the three women, a report has claimed
Ms Kitching, 52, (pictured) died from a suspected heart attack on March 10 after complaining to her husband Andrew Landeryou
Senator Penny Wong allegedly told Ms Kitching ‘if you had children, you might understand’ during a heated debate about climate protests
Ms Kitching was also reportedly summoned to a meeting with Ms Keneally over her support for then-Liberal Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in the wake of the Brittany Higgins allegations.
The report went on to suggest the treatment she received from some colleagues had taken a toll in the lead-up to her pre-selection, and ultimately her shock death.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday described the revelations as ‘distressing’ while paying tribute to Ms Kitching.
‘These are very distressing [allegations] and I don’t think they can just be dismissed, they obviously need to be addressed,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘These reports of her treatment are not ones that I can confirm, obviously, as the leader of the Liberal party, but they’re certainly things that I would expect to be taken very seriously and addressed.
Senator Kitching is pictured with Labor Senator Kristina Keneally. Ms Kitching was reportedly summoned to a meeting with the senior senator over her support for then-Liberal Defence Minister Linda Reynolds in the wake of the Brittany Higgins allegations
‘The reason she had so many friends on our side is because she stood up very strongly for issues of our national security and sovereignty.’
Mr Albanese slammed the ‘mean girls’ reports and subsequent questioning as ‘disrespectful’ toward the accused Labor senators, and attempted to turn the tables by making it a gender issue.
The federal Labor leader gave terse one-word answers when questioned about those reports by Ally Langdon on the Today show on Wednesday.
He said it was disrespectful for the three female senators to be branded as mean girls after he was asked whether the ALP has a culture problem.
‘It’s astonishing in 2022 I get a question using the term ‘mean girls’,’ he told a press conference in Brisbane. I find that extraordinarily disrespectful to describe strong, articulate, principled women.’
He said senior male politicians would not be described in the same way and the term was a ‘throwback from decades ago’.
Langdon had earlier in the day left the Opposition leader near speechless as she asked him to respond to the reports about the hostility Ms Kitching faced from her three Labor colleagues in the Upper House.
‘Is there a cultural problem with senior women within the Labor Party?’ Langdon asked to which Mr Albanese simply replied ‘no’.
Anthony Albanese (pictured) on Wednesday said it was disrespectful for three female senators to be branded as mean girls after he was asked whether the ALP has a culture problem
‘No – I’m very proud of the fact I lead a team that has 50 per cent female and male contribution in my shadow cabinet,’ he finally continued.
‘I’m proud of all the people in the leadership team of the Labor party.
Mr Albanese said he respected Senator Kitching and appointed her as an assistant shadow minister when he became opposition leader.
‘Out of respect for Kimberley, I think the idea that people go into who might have had a disagreement here or there is totally unbecoming,’ he told Langdon.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has described the revelations as ‘distressing’ while paying tribute to Ms Kitching for her service to Australian politics
‘I’m going to pay respect to Kimberley Kitching by treating her with the respect that she deserves. She made a contribution for too short a time to the Labor party and to the Labor cause.
‘Her family and friends are really hurting today.’
Senator Gallagher told the ABC ‘many’ of the assertions in the article were incorrect but refused to discuss the specifics.
‘I just don’t think it’s respectful for us to enter into commentary or disagreement of (the article) at this point in time,’ she said.
‘I don’t think it’s right.’
Source: Daily Mail