Vale Peta Murphy

Vale Peta Murphy Main Image


Murphy, Ms Peta Jan

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (17:21): I've just received a photograph from the office at Dunkley, and it shows a window with Peta's smiling face, looking to the outside, and on the inside it's full to the brim with flowers. The people of Dunkley are pouring out their grief at the loss of their beloved federal member, Peta Jan Murphy, and I want to thank them for that. I also want to thank them for their judgement in sending Peta to us as their representative. While some have said they were lucky to have Peta, I think that they were wise to choose her, to send her to this place to represent them—and to represent them so magnificently as she did.

To be fair, I wasn't sure about Peta when I first met her. I thought she was very confident, very outspoken, and she certainly didn't suffer fools. Maybe that was partly my problem. There was just something about her I couldn't pin down. In this place, we tend to befriend, firstly, our caucus colleagues that we may have been elected with, our factional state friends, but, after awhile, you start to work on committees, potentially you go on a trip and you make friends with people from other states and, dare I say it, other parties. But that didn't happen for Peta and I either. I really didn't know very well at all. Then COVID happened, and we were all locked up—none more so than her in Melbourne. But then a strange thing happened, as it often does in this place we call parliament and in this strange game we call politics.

There's something that the Prime Minister and I and Peta had in common: we had a staff member called Susanne Heath. Susanne Heath came to me from the Prime Minister's office, with her little dog, Peachy, but before that she'd run Peta's campaign to be successfully elected in Dunkley in 2019. She started to tell me about 'Pete', as she warmly called her, and how funny she was and, if I really spent some time and took the time to get to know her, that we'd get on famously—and that was actually the case. So Sue created a bridge for Peta and I to lay down our factional disagreements. I once said to Sue: 'I like golf. That's where you play with a hard white ball and you walk around in open spaces and you take your time and you strategise. Pete, she loves squash. It's a small black ball, and you just run around inside in a box. How can we ever really like each other?' Actually, Pete and I laughed about that, as it seemed to sum up so much of our beliefs. But then, when we scratched a little deeper, we realised that we had a lot in common, none so much as our love of dogs, shoes on sale and British crime shows.

I do want to send a special shout-out to her beloved husband, Rod. It was when we first talked about those crime shows and your love, Rod, and her love for those shows, that I thought, 'The world's a funny place, isn't it?' I know that she absolutely adored you, and you her, and you were her rock as she was yours. In these coming days, when you find yourself without your rock and you are between a rock and a hard place, I want you to think about the legacy she leaves here in parliament—and, as many have spoken about, for someone who served such a short time she has left an indelible impression not only on those of us who served with her but on the laws of this land. Every time you hear the phrase 'you win some, you lose more', I want you to think of Peta Murphy because she was the person who helped effect that change for all of us here in Australia. She wanted kids to know more about their sporting heroes than their multi odds, and that is something to truly remember and reflect upon for her.

The other thing I have thought about today is that we have a garden here in Parliament House. Peta used to tell me she couldn't grow anything but I loved gardening, and we'd often laugh about that. There's a garden here, and there are roses planted specifically for members who have died whilst serving their country. I've been thinking about Peta and the rose we might plant for her, and I think she is worthy of a rose called 'double delight' because, indeed, she was a double delight. The rose is cream with a beautiful red edge. A little bit like that rose, Peta wore her beliefs right on the edge where we could all see them. She was Labor to the core and she was a humanitarian and a humanist to the core. She believed in fellow humans whether they be rich or poor, whether they had high standing or low. She stood up for them and she was a voice for them not only here in this place but her entire life. 'Double delight' could represent Peta in that garden. It is a striking flower. Occasionally we'd be chatting and she'd say to me: 'Maz, do I smell? I can't smell myself.' I'd say, 'No, Pete, you smell fine.' I just want you to know that 'double delight' has a magnificent smell. They often say that when you smell a rose it's the angels speaking to you, so whenever I smell that rose in the future I'll think of you, Pete. But the best part about 'double delight' is it's got magnificent thorns, and it pricks like none other. And let me tell you: Peta could be the best thorn in the side of so many, and she used those thorns in the right way to make us all bleed a little better for our country.

Lastly, I thank Peta's father and mother, Bob and Jan, and her beloved sisters and nieces and nephew. It's not right, it goes against every principle of our human values and beliefs and culture, and it goes against every law that we know: you don't bury your children before yourselves. It is wrong and unjust. But you should know that your girl was the strongest girl. Vale, Peta Jan Murphy.