I rise today to make a few brief remarks on this condolence motion following the passing of the member for Dunkley, Peta Murphy. Many beautiful words have been spoken in this debate and in the other place about Peta by those who knew her best. I wish to associate myself particularly with the moving contributions of Senator Wong and Senator Birmingham. To Peta’s good friends Senator Marielle Smith and Senator Walsh—such beautiful contributions. I didn’t really know Peta, but from afar, as a Victorian senator, I admired her courage and determination in the face of such adversity.
In her first speech in the parliament, just two weeks after learning her cancer had returned, with a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, Peta Murphy said:
I am neither unique nor alone in the fight that I am about to take on.
I watched my own mother, Ann, diagnosed with breast cancer while working as a sitting member of parliament, battle this insidious disease, so I have some insight into what it takes to continue to work while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Peta was exceptionally brave. She was a strong advocate for mental health, disability rights and social inclusivity and justice. In her last interview, on ABC Radio National, she struggled to speak; it was very tough to listen to. But her advocacy for a national registry for metastatic cancer patients continued. She worked right up to the end.
Before entering politics, Peta Murphy worked as a solicitor advocate and a barrister, and spent time working with Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Law Reform Commission. In its obituary, the Victorian Bar said:
Peta was disagreeable in the best sense of that word; she possessed an independence of intellect that compelled her to insist, plainly and without fear, on what she understood to be the real question in any problem, legal or otherwise.
In 2017, Peta joined the office of the then shadow minister for employment and workplace relations, Brendan O’Connor. She spent two years working with Brendan before her election in 2019. Following the news of her death, I sat next to the member for Gorton on a plane back to Melbourne. He was devastated. Peta was much loved by her Labor family, and you are all in my thoughts today. I am so sorry for your loss. I convey my deepest condolences to Peta’s beloved husband of 24 years, Rod Glover; to Peta’s broader family; and to her friends. Vale, Peta Murphy.