Two federal Labor politicians held hands in in a moving show of solidarity for frontbencher Linda Burney, whose son was found dead at home in Sydney on Tuesday night.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Burney said her 33-year-old son, Binni Kirkbright-Burney, had died after a long battle with mental health and addiction. His death involved “no suspicious circumstances”.
Burney, who made history as the first female Indigenous member of Australia’s House of Representatives in July 2016, said he had “tried so hard to conquer his demons” and she didn’t know “what life will be without him”.
On Wednesday, as opposition leader Bill Shorten acknowledged Burney’s immediate leave of absence and offered his condolences in Parliament, two federal MPs – two mothers – embraced across the aisle in a show of support. The moment was captured by Fairfax photographer Andrew Meares.
Labor MPs Embrace In Beautiful Moment Of Respect For Linda Burney https://t.co/DnfbQpobj0
— A/Prof Rhonda Wilson (@RhondaWilsonMHN) October 25, 2017
In that moment, Susan Lamb and Anne Aly – both from the Labor party – were no longer politicians. Their heads were down, Lamb might have been weeping. And those hands, clutched together in mid-air, were a sign of the support and love and empathy that can shine through in a time like this.
“We know how much Linda loved her son and we know how much her son loved Linda,” Shorten’s words rang through the chamber, Sky News reports.
“All of us send our love and our solidarity to our friend and colleague and her family at this time.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also paid his respects at the beginning of Question Time.
“As parents, our worst dread is the loss of a child. Linda’s loss is unspeakably sad,” he told parliament, Sky News reports.
“She’s not with us today, she has leave. But we are with her, we are all with her in love and in heartfelt sympathy. She is cast deep in grief but she does not grieve alone.”
“She is a strong woman but stronger because of the love that all of us, the sympathy that all of us, the friendship that all of us share with her at this tragic time.”
Linda and her family have asked for no flowers, instead contributions to the Central Coast Drug Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre.
If you, or any one you know, is struggling with mental health issues, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.