Tributes for Labor’s ‘courageous’ Peta Murphy
Labor MP Peta Murphy, who has died after a four-year battle with cancer, is being remembered as “brave, courageous and loved”.
A clearly emotional Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the death of the Victorian MP in a hastily arranged press conference in Canberra.
He said she had died only a short time previously.
“Every one of us in the Labor family is broken-hearted by the death of our beloved Peta Murphy,” he said of the 50-year-old Victorian.
“Peta Murphy was brave, she was courageous, and she was loved.”
Murphy was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, just before she was due to move to San Francisco with her husband Rod.
She beat it and was elected to Parliament in the Melbourne seat of Dunkley in 2019.
Two weeks later she learned the cancer had returned.
“In her remarkable first speech in the Parliament, she said ‘I’m neither unique nor alone in the fight I’m about to take on’,” Albanese said.
“It was the best first speech I have ever heard. And what a fighter she was.”
Albanese, who at times struggled to speak, said the entire Labor family was “brokenhearted” at Murphy’s death.
“I know that for all of Peta’s loved ones, and all those who had the privilege of knowing her, including those of us in the Labor family, this will be a difficult period of grieving. But we will always carry her glow in our hearts,” he said.
Before entering Parliament, Murphy was a barrister and Victorian public defender, and had been chief of staff to now Labor minister Brendan O’Connor.
Albanese said she was much admired and respected in Parliament and among her electorate.
“The people Peta represented admired her determination, they respected her passion, and they responded, above all, to her absolute authenticity,” he said.
“It was always clear just how much Peta cared for her community, her colleagues and our country … right up till last week, she insisted on coming to parliament.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Murphy had served Labor, her constituents and the Australian people “with grace and distinction”.
“It was impossible not to be impressed by the heartfelt and heroic way she spoke about causes dear to her: Bettering the lives of women, children and families,” he said.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong paid tribute to Murphy on the floor of the Senate on Monday.
“She was loved, she was respected by all of us, greatly admired by her community that she represented with passion and determination even through all her illness,” she said.
“Peta’s strength was unmatched, and she will be greatly missed by us all.”
Labor MP Andrew Leigh, who worked alongside Murphy in the late 1990s, said she was passionate about social justice and curious about the world.
“The world needs more Peta Murphies, and the whole parliament will miss her,” he said on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham also expressed sympathies to the late MP’s family in Parliament.
“Peta Murphy conducted herself as an exceptional member of parliament, but particularly showed such strength, such grace, such determination during her battle with cancer,” he said.
Housing Minister Julie Collins said Murphy was “an inspiration in so many ways”, while Treasurer Jim Chalmers said she was “an absolute gem of a person”.
Greens leader Adam Bandt said Murphy was much respected in Victoria.
“We’re all poorer without her,” he said.
She is survived by her husband of 24 years, Rod.