5 December 2023

Labor ‘broken-hearted’ over the death of House of Reps member Peta Murphy

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Peta Murphy MP

Member for Dunkley Peta Murphy has passed away from breast cancer at just 50 years of age. Photo: Instagram.

Senior Labor Party figures have expressed sadness at the death of the Federal Member for Dunkley, Peta Murphy.

Ms Murphy’s death from breast cancer at just 50 years of age was announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today (4 December). He said she had been in Parliament just last week to advocate for a national registry for metastatic cancer patients and to launch a report.

“Right up to last week, she was asking questions in the House, raising awareness of issues she cared about and standing up for the community she was so proud to represent,” the Prime Minister said in a moving tribute.

Ms Murphy had previously beaten breast cancer. She was elected to the House of Representatives in the Port Phillip Bay seat of Dunkley in the 2019 election, but was told the cancer had returned just two weeks before being sworn in.

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Ms Murphy was born in Goulburn in November 1973. She attended the ANU where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Psych) and a Bachelor of Law, and the University of Melbourne where she achieved a Master of Criminology.

She worked in various legal positions before joining the staff of then Labor front-bencher Brendan O’Connor in 2017 as an advisor.

During her brief time in Parliament, Ms Murphy sat on several House of Representatives standing committees, including Social Policy and Legal Affairs, Economics, Health, Aged Care and Sport, and Social Policy and Legal Affairs which she also chaired for a period.

She also sat on the National Anti-Corruption Commission Legislation, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum Joint Select committees.

Ms Murphy was in Parliament advocating for a national registry for metastatic cancer patients just a week before her death. Photo: Instagram.

“Peta Murphy was the strongest of local members, the most inspiring of colleagues and the very best kind of friend,” Mr Albanese said.

“To attend a community event with Peta was to bask in her glow. Like all of us who served alongside her, the people Peta represented admired her determination, they respected her passion, and they responded – above all – to her authenticity.

“It was always clear just how much Peta cared for her community, her colleagues and our country. She helped lead the charge for important reforms like reducing the harm from online gambling, because she understood the greatest privilege of public office is the opportunity to make a difference.

“While Peta’s was a life so very well lived, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that she wasn’t with us for longer.”

Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong echoed the Prime Minister’s comments, saying she was devastated by the death.

“Peta was loved and respected by the Labor family and greatly admired by her community,” she said. “I offer my deepest sympathies to her loving husband Rod and all of her family.

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“She will be greatly missed.”

In a LinkedIn post, former Liberal Minister and former Member for Dunkley Bruce Bilson said: “The passing of Peta Murphy is a tragic loss for her family, friends, the Dunkley community and our nation.

“A generous heart with a sincere commitment to service,” he said. “My thoughts and condolences go to Peta’s loved ones and to the many of us who admire and will miss her. Dunkley has lost a warrior for our community.”

Victorian State Member for South Eastern Metropolitan Region Lee Tarlamis said: “We are all broken-hearted by the passing of our good friend Peta Murphy.

“We will all miss her amazing light, strength and passion as she is taken from us too soon. We are all the better for having had her in our lives and she leaves an enduring mark on all who met her, knew her, loved her – and who benefitted from her tireless advocacy.

“Despite her health challenges she never wavered and was fighting right up until the end.”

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I don’t remember the same outpouring of grief for Kimberley Kitching

I met Peta Dunkley earlier this year at an meeting at Parliament House lobbying for people with a genetic risk of cancer. Even though she knew she was terminally ill at that stage, she was still fighting for other people at risk of this awful condition. I’ve been around pollies for most of my career and I’m a bit cynical about most of them, but she impressed me with her determination to help others. Her death is very sad news.

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