POLITICS

'He Tried So Hard To Conquer His Demons': Family Tragedy For Labor's Linda Burney

Her beloved son has died.

25/10/2017 8:50 AM AEDT | Updated 25/10/2017 3:29 PM AEDT
Alex Ellinghausen/Fairfax
Linda Burney: "I don’t know what life will be like without him."

CANBERRA -- Federal Labor frontbencher Linda Burney has taken immediate leave from federal parliament to be with her family after revealing her beloved son Binni Kirkbright-Burney died on Tuesday night.

Burney, the shadow minister for human services, has returned to her family home in Sydney and is requesting "privacy in all respects" in this "dire, grief-stricken time".

The first-time federal MP, who is respected on both sides of politics, is receiving support from the Labor family.

Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Labor MPs Susan Lamb and Anna Aly listen as OL Shorten marks the death of Linda Burney's son.

In a heartbreaking statement, Burney described her son as a loving and caring 33-year-old who "struggled with mental health and with addiction".

"I don't want to pre-empt subsequent inquiry but we all thought we were getting somewhere. I don't know what life will be like without him," she wrote.

"I will be taking leave from the Parliament.

I wish to advise that my beloved son, Binni Kirkbright-Burney was found dead last night at our family home in Sydney. The NSW Police advise that there appears to be no suspicious circumstances but the cause of death is yet to be determined.

I returned to Sydney last night to be with him this one last time. Binni is 33 years old. He is a caring and loving man. He has struggled with mental health and with addiction. He tried so hard to conquer his demons, as I and my family have tried so hard to support him in every way we could. I don't want to pre-empt subsequent inquiry but we all thought we were getting somewhere. I don't know what life will be like without him.

I understand I am a public figure but in this dire, grief-stricken time for me, I ask that you respect my and my family's privacy in all respects. When I can, I will speak about this."

Linda Burney statement

Burney said NSW Police have told her there appears to be no suspicious circumstances but the cause of death is yet to be determined.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke to Burney this morning and paid tribute to her at the start of parliament's Question Time.

"As parents, our worst dread is the loss of a child. Linda's loss is unspeakably sad," he told parliament.

"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."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten spoke to her last night and said her grief was "terrible".

"Losing a child is every parent's nightmare. It is, as Shakespeare once said, a grief that fills up the room," he told parliament."

"We know how much Linda loved her son and we know how much her son loved Linda.

"All of us send our love and our solidarity to our friend and colleague and her family at this time."

The history-making MP, the first female Indigenous member of Australia's House of Representatives, had a tough upbringing in regional NSW, growing up apart from her Aboriginal family.

She lost her husband Rick Farley in a tragic wheelchair accident in 2006 at the age of just 53.

Labor colleagues are also reaching out to Burney.

Fellow frontbencher Clare O'Neil tweeted upon hearing the news, "My heart is absolutely broken today for @LindaBurneyMP".

"An utter, gutting tragedy. Linda, we love & respect you more than you could imagine."

In place of flowers, the family have asked people to contribute to the Central Coast Drug Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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