Linda Burney grieves loss of son, 33

Linda Burney at the CEO Sleepout in Sydney in 2016. Photo: AAP.

Condolences from all corners of government and the wider Indigenous community continue to flow in for Labor frontbencher Linda Burney, whose 33-year-old son Binni Kirkbright-Burney was found dead in the family home last night.

In a statement Ms Burney said NSW Police had advised there appeared to no suspicious circumstances linked to his death, although the cause of death is yet to be determined.

The first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives, Ms Burney will take a leave of absence from her public duties.

“I don’t know what life will be like without him,” Ms Burney said.

“He is a caring and loving man. He has struggled with mental health and with addiction. He tried so hard to conquer his demons.”

She said while she didn’t want to pre-empt subsequent inquiry about Binni’s death, “we all thought we were getting somewhere”.

Messages of sympathy and support flowed in on social media throughout the morning.

Bill Shorton, who fielded many messages as Labor leader, said: “I know how much she loved her son. I can’t fathom her heartbreak.”

Former MP Peter Garrett said: “She is one of the good ones, and my heart goes out to her in her terrible loss.”

Among many other messages, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) said it was in mourning for Ms Burney’s loss.

Burney is of Wiradjuri descent and grew up in Whitton, a small town in south-west NSW near Leeton.

In her inaugural speech to Parliament, Ms Burney told of her upbringing: “I did not grow up knowing my Aboriginal family. I met my father, Nonny Ingram, in 1984. His first words to me were, ‘I hope I don’t disappoint you.’ I have now met 10 brothers and sisters. We grew up 40 minutes apart. That was the power of racism and denial in the fifties that was so overbearing. I now have two sets of brothers and sisters. I was raised by my old aunt and uncle, Nina and Billy Laing. They were brother and sister. These old people gave me the ground on which I stand today—the values of honesty, loyalty and respect.”

Burney also has a daughter.

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