‘Could have been me’: Senator says she’s haunted by Kimberley Kitching death
A senator has revealed that she had to seek help for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder because of issues within her party, warning the late Kimberley Kitching’s premature death amid feeling bullied “could have been me”.
After losing a preselection battle to retain the top spot on the ticket for the Country Liberal Party, Senator Sam McMahon used her valedictory speech to call for change.
In January she resigned from the CLP, which traditionally sits in the Nationals party room in Canberra, opting to serve out her final months in the Senate as an independent.
Senator McMahon said her decision to quit the party was not connected to losing preselection.
The Northern Territory senator revealed she had to seek “professional assistance” to overcome PTSD and anxiety, using parliamentary privilege to say she’d been “terrorised” by her former chief of staff Jason Riley.
Two years ago it was reported police had investigated an alleged altercation between the pair.
Mr Riley was not charged over the incident.
“My reason to resign was driven entirely by my former staff member Jason Riley who did abuse and terrorise my office, including myself,” Senator McMahon said.
She said that she feared for her personal safety when the CLP then placed Mr Riley into a position on its central council.
“To have to sit in meetings with such a person was stressful and one that has not been without me seeking out professional assistance to overcome the anxiety and PTSD it created,” she said.
Senator McMahon said she was haunted by the death of Senator Kitching, who had spoken of being bullied by Labor colleagues before her death.
“I think of the premature death of my colleague Kimberley Kitching, and one thing that haunts me is it could have so easily been me,” she said.
“We can honour her memory by not making it a political issue but by fixing it, so politics is a better place, particularly for women.
Senator McMahon said all of parliament needed to learn from Senator Kitching’s death because it was not constrained to one particular side of politics.
“If it happened it should not have happened and yet it seems it may have and so it does over and over again,” she said.
“My only hope is that we are learning and evolving and it won’t always have to be this way.
“This alleged behaviour towards Senator Kitching should not become a partisan football because it is not constrained to one particular side of politics.”