Australian politics is in shock after Labor senator Kimberley Kitching died suddenly, aged 52. The Labor senator, who was fully vaccinated, suffered a suspected heart attack on Thursday.

Kitching’s sudden death has prompted tributes from across the political divide. The federal opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, said on Thursday night:

“The Labor family is in shock tonight at the tragic news that our friend and colleague senator Kimberley Kitching has died suddenly in Melbourne. My sincere condolences to her family. Kimberley will be missed by us all.”

Labor senator Kimberley Kitching in the Senate. She died suddenly on Thursday aged 52 of a suspected heart attack.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, also offered his condolences, describing Kitching’s death as “a deep and terrible shock”. Morrison said in a statement:

“She demonstrated that her passion for her country was always greater than any partisan view. She clearly loved her country and it genuinely showed.”

Kitching, a Victorian senator since 2016, had posted a picture to her social media accounts in July last year showing her receiving her second COVID shot. Part of the caption of her vaccine proof photo was:

I feel so lucky to be fully vaccinated from corona virus as of today.

Please go and get it done, for your health and peace of mind, for your loved ones and your country.”

Born in Brisbane, Senator Kitching entered the Federal Parliament in 2016, replacing Stephen Conroy in the upper house.

She developed a reputation as a strong advocate of human rights and democracy and was known for her hawkish views on China. She recently received a global award recognizing her work advocating for a “Magnitsky-style” human rights sanctions regime in Australia.

She is survived by her husband Andrew Landeryou.

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