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See the incredible heartfelt tribute to Peta Murphy that she got to hear

Karen Barlow
Updated December 4 2023 - 5:29pm, first published 3:56pm

Tributes often are given far too late to those who should hear them.

But not this emotional, non-partisan recognition given in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 28, by Nationals frontbencher Darren Chester to Labor MP Peta Murphy.

Watch: The Nationals frontbencher, with his voice betraying his emotions, gave a two-minute statement that quickly turned to Ms Murphy. Footage: Hansard

As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tearfully announced on Monday, the well-respected federal member for the Victorian seat of Dunkley has died after a long battle with breast cancer.

Utterly determined to be in Parliament House last week, the 50-year-old, who had friends on either side of the aisle, asked a question on Tuesday on housing policy during question time.

But in the minutes before question time began, Mr Chester - with his voice betraying his emotions - gave a two-minute statement that started in the topic of courage and quickly turned to Ms Murphy.

"You can also see courage in the form of a little blonde woman from Frankston, the member for Dunkley," he said.

"Before she came to this place, the member for Dunkley was a champion squash player - if you actually believe that squash is a sport!"

Mr Chester kept looking at Ms Murphy and joked about needing protection after the squash jibe.

"Mr Speaker, can I remind you that interjections are disorderly, and you need to protect me from the member for Dunkley at all costs as I make my comments!" he said.

The camera switched to Ms Murphy seated next to Sharon Claydon. She appeared to question "what is going on?"

Darren Chester pays tribute to Peta Murphy in Parliament. Pictures Hansard screenshot
Darren Chester pays tribute to Peta Murphy in Parliament. Pictures Hansard screenshot

With Mr Albanese facing him on the leader's seat, Mr Chester pressed on.

"The member for Dunkley is a warrior for causes she is passionate about. She's a warrior for fairness, equality, women's rights and breast cancer, and a champion for battlers in her own community," he said.

"Along with several members opposite, I attended a function in the member's electorate recently which was a celebration of 50 years - I'm not saying whose 50th birthday it was - and I listened to some lovely tributes on that night about her sporting career, her achievements, her life in law and, now, her life in politics."

He then recounted a recent parliamentary trip to New York.

"As the member for Dunkley reminded me this morning, she was no saint," Mr Chester said.

"I always remember the night when we overindulged in espresso martinis in New York and she accosted actress Rose Byrne and her family, and then proudly told me she'd also been having a conversation with K Flip.

"I told the member for Dunkley that her name is actually G Flip, to which the member for Dunkley replied, 'Well, actually, it's K Flip to all her friends.'"

After that Mr Chester got serious.

"Right now my friend the member for Dunkley is facing some serious health challenges; we know that," he told Parliament. "She is facing those challenges with courage, humility and good humour."

"It is bloody hard to watch. But I know she has earnt the respect of all members in this place, on both sides of the chamber.

"We wish her great health and happiness as she faces those challenges in the days ahead.

"In the words of Pippi Longstocking: please remember you are the strongest girl in the world. I thank the House."

And then question time began.

Karen Barlow

Karen Barlow

Chief Political Correspondent

Karen Barlow is ACM's Chief Political Correspondent. Working in the federal press gallery, she investigates and writes about federal politics and government. She has an interest in integrity, leadership and social equity. She has covered two Olympics and been to Antarctica twice. Contact her on karen.barlow@canberratimes.com.au

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