CONDOLENCES - Ms Peta Murphy PM  Main Image

06 December 2023

As I walked into parliament this morning, it was a magnificent Canberra summer day, a beautiful day. That's fitting to me because that's how I remember Peta. I see these beautiful flowers here and they remind me of her as well.

I only met Peta after she came into this place after the 2019 election, and to me she was someone who lit up every room she was in. I dealt with her a bit in that parliament, on the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs. She really made it a pleasure to be on that committee. It's a pretty dry committee sometimes, but she really made it a great place to be. She struck me from the very first time I met her in that first committee meeting. We were getting some evidence, from the Attorney-General's Department I think it was, and I said to one of the people who was giving us evidence to explain it to me as I didn't understand it. Peta immediately turned to me, and she said: 'A miracle! A male doctor who doesn't think he knows everything!' She just grabbed my imagination from that time onwards.

I knew something of her medical history, and I did try and help her through the time that we were together in that parliament and this one. I understood some of what she was going through, and it was terrible and heartbreaking. I give my condolences to her husband, Rod Glover, who she loved dearly, her parents, her sisters, her extended family, her staff and the people of Dunkley. I give my condolences to them, but I thank them all for allowing us some time to spend with Peta. Dylan Thomas has said people should 'rage, rage against the dying of the light'. Peta was never like that. She saw what she was going through as what many people in our world go through, and she didn't see herself as being special. But I thought she was really special.

I understood what she was going through. In fact, a few weeks ago, when I said to her, 'Look, you don't look well, you need to go home,' she said to me, 'I know I'm dying, but I'll kill you if you tell anyone about it.' She didn't want anyone to know what she was going through. She did all the things she did in this parliament, the amazing policy work, the things she did about social justice, people going through health problems, everything that we as a Labor government are dealing with—she went through all that, but, I knew, in constant pain. She must have been in agony. Even the way she sat in her chair in parliament, you could see she was in pain—bone pain, which is said to be the worst pain you can go through.

She didn't want to take pain relief, and I hope I'm not divulging personal history that she wouldn't want said. But she wouldn't take narcotics, because she didn't want her mentation dulled. It certainly was obvious that she didn't take pain medication when perhaps she should have. She wanted to be bright, and she wanted to give what she could give for every minute and every day that she was here without giving in to that terrible cancer. And so she did what she could, putting up with the pain, putting up with the discomfort. We saw, in the last week, she was sick; she really was functioning with her last breath, with her last bit of energy to try and be here, and she did—giving a radio interview, giving talks, asking questions in parliament to the very, very end, and I just admired her amazingly for that.

Many members of parliament, on all sides, have spoken to me about how highly they regarded her and how much they valued her input. The Independent member for Kooyong, Monique Ryan, has contacted me and has said she was just an all-round good egg who gave as much as she could to our parliament. The member for Hughes has also expressed to me how much she valued Peta's input. And that just is a sign of how much the whole parliament valued her. She won't be forgotten.

It is appropriate that we grieve for her but also give thanks for what she has given to us all and given to this parliament. For me personally, it has been a great privilege to have been with her. She was on the standing committee on health, and she gave incredible input there every minute she was in that meeting. As I said, in every meeting she came to, she lit up the room. It was something that I looked forward to—to have her there—and that is something I will value for as long as I live.

None of us get to choose the timing of our death, really. I'm so sorry to see Peta go, but I have fantastic memories of her, and I know many people in the parliament feel exactly the same way. Many words have been spoken today about Peta, and she will live on in the things that she has done and the impression she has made upon people. For her family, there must be unbelievable grief—and for her husband, who she often spoke about and clearly loved dearly. It must be a time where they wonder how they are going to get through this. None of us will forget Peta. None of us will deny what she has given to us all, and I'm very privileged and very glad I was here for at least a part of it. I know she's given so much more to her local community, but everyone who had contact with her loved her dearly and valued what she did. I will remember her for the rest of my days. Vale, Peta. It's been a beautiful day, just like you were a beautiful person. We will remember you forever.