‘Keep the glow’: tributes flow for courageous MP Murphy

Andrew Brown |

Flowers have been placed on Peta Murphy’s seat in parliament following her death at 50.
Flowers have been placed on Peta Murphy’s seat in parliament following her death at 50.

The prime minister has vowed all MPs would “keep the glow” of the late Peta Murphy in their hearts, praising her strength and determination.

Federal MPs paid tribute on the floor of parliament to Ms Murphy, who died on Monday aged 50 following a long battle with cancer.

Ms Murphy, the Labor MP for the Victorian seat of Dunkley, had been in parliament since 2019, with her breast cancer returning just two weeks before she was sworn in.

Peta Murphy
Peta Murphy has been remembered as an “outstanding, courageous, inspirational Australian”. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Leading condolence motions in the House of Representatives, Anthony Albanese said the death of Ms Murphy was a great loss.

“There are some members of parliament whose contribution earns begrudging respect of the chamber,” he said.

“There are others, rarer still, who win genuine admiration and real affection across the political spectrum. Peta Murphy was one of those.

“A fiercely loyal friend and colleague, a boss her staff adored, and a brilliant, funny, courageous and caring person who made this a better parliament because she cared so deeply about representing her community.”

Flowers were placed on Ms Murphy’s seat in the lower house in her memory, with many MPs wiping away tears during the condolence speeches.

Mr Albanese said parliament was mourning not just the death of the MP, but the loss of her future contribution, saying she would have made a “fine cabinet minister of the future”.

“She will never be truly gone. We will keep the glow of Peta Murphy in our hearts,” he said.

“Those of us who met her and experienced her friendship are privileged to have done so.

“So let us keep her fine example, this outstanding, courageous, inspirational Australian, in our minds.”

Peta Murphy condolence motion
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led condolence motions in parliament for Peta Murphy. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Ms Murphy had so much more to give the parliament.

“She chose to use the bumps in her life’s journey to make a difference as a member of parliament and make a difference she most certainly did, living up to the ideals that she set for herself,” he said.

“Leaving us at only the age of 50, we all know that Peta had so much more to say, so much more to contribute, so much more to do.

“Some of us might wonder what the remarkable Peta would have done next.”

Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor, who Ms Murphy served as his chief of staff between 2016 and 2019, remembered her humility.

“She was not comfortable with pride or being the centre of attention, which is a funny thing for a politician, unless it was for a cause bigger than her,” he said.

“She was principled, she was in a hurry to change things, but her work was always accompanied by compassion and integrity.”

Labor MP Kate Thwaites, who entered parliament the same year as Ms Murphy, praised her passion and close friendship.

“She never left you in any doubt where she stood on an issue and she would always come down on the side of making things fairer,” she said.

“Peta didn’t like talking about her cancer and it’s not what she wanted to be known for, but she was also very conscious of the platform she had to argue for better outcomes for people with cancer.”

Nationals MP Darren Chester, who earlier paid tribute to Ms Murphy during her last week in parliament, honoured her intelligence, humour and warmth.

“We’ve been a bit ripped off. The nation’s been robbed of even greater achievements of the member for Dunkley,” he said.

“She made sure the cancer didn’t define who she was. Peta defined the cancer on behalf of women around the country.”