Condolences – Peta Jan Murphy MP

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (13:37): Everyone who knew Peta Murphy loved her. How could you not? That smile. That brain. That heart. Like all of us here, I’ve had the enormous privilege to know Peta, to work with her and spend time with her.

A couple of months ago, I visited Ballam Park Preschool in Frankston and Lyrebird Community Centre in Carrum Downs with Peta. She was unwell, but she was radiant, and you could tell just how much her community loved her and how much she loved her community. During the visit to the community centre, Peta made a beeline for two women who were sitting down playing bridge. One of the women was just about to turn 100, and she was ecstatic to be seeing Peta, and Peta was just as ecstatic to see her. You could see the light in both of their eyes.

I’ve been in this place now for 16 years, and you get a sense pretty quickly of who the really genuine souls are. That’s who Peta was. She was everything a community could want in a representative. She was everything all of us here aspire to be. She was authentic. She was thoughtful. She was hardworking. And she was courageous. How many of us with a week left to live would still be here, fighting for change, fighting for others? That’s what Peta did, here, last week, for the release of the Breast Cancer Network Australia report, Time to count people with metastatic breast cancer: a way forward. She was determined to be here in parliament for the release of this important work, which calls for those with metastatic breast cancer to be counted in cancer registries. In Peta’s first speech in this place, she said, ‘I am neither unique nor alone in this disease, but I am someone who has a platform that I can use to benefit others, and I intend to use it.’ From her first act to her last, that’s what she did. That’s courage. That was Peta. That’s a measure of the person that she was. We have lost the best of us.

I spoke to Peta last Tuesday in caucus. After Senator Dodson announced his retirement, we all got up to gather around Pat for a photo. I walked over to Peta and asked how her 50th birthday party was, which had happened just a few weeks earlier. It occurs to me now that Peta would’ve known then that it wasn’t just Patrick who wasn’t returning to caucus.

Peta Murphy was a solicitor, a barrister, a public defender, a member of parliament, a champion squash player and a champion for the underprivileged and the overlooked, and she was a friend. First and foremost, she was a wife, a sister and a daughter. I want to send my deepest condolences to her loving husband, Rod; to her sisters, Jodi and Penni; and to her mum and dad, Bob and Jan. You’re not supposed to outlive your children. My heart breaks for Peta’s family. Finally, I want to send my condolences to Peta’s staff, who adored her: Lauren Johnson, Madison Child, Majella Frick, John Conlon, Kitty McLoughlin, Madeleine Van Der Zypp and Louis Robson. We wrap our arms around you. May Peta rest in peace.