‘Cancer sucks’: New MP’s emotional maiden speech
A FEDERAL MP has given an emotional first speech in parliament after receiving the shock news that her cancer was back.
Peta Murphy, a new Victorian Labor MP, choked up as she spoke candidly today about her first battle with breast cancer and how she was told two weeks ago that it had returned.
The barrister turned politician vowed to use her new platform to fight for others going through the same battle.
"Let's be frank, cancer sucks," she told Parliament today.
"It changes the way your body feels and the way you feel about your body.
"The treatments can make you sick.
"Sometimes you are scared, sometimes you are angry.
"In my experience, often you are both at the same time."
The first time she was diagnosed was 2011, just days before she and her husband were set to fly to San Francisco with big plans for "work, life and adventure".
The second time, it was just one week after she had been sworn in as the new Member for Dunkley.
"I am neither unique, nor alone in the fight I am about to take on," Ms Murphy said, noting it was estimated 19,000 Australian women would be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone.
"But I am someone who has a platform that I can use to benefit others.
"I am going to start by saying this today. Ladies, check your breasts.
"Men, don't ignore what your body is telling you.
"Fellow members of parliament, listen to the experts who warn you that the promise of universal health care is under threat.
"Commit to the reform and funding that our health system needs, and do whatever is required to ensure that Australia trains, retains and invests in the health care professionals and researchers who make our system great."
Ms Murphy also delivered a blistering attack on the current "machismo" and fear-mongering in Australian politics, calling for an end to politics of "personal attacks and petty judgements".
"When less than half of all Australians are satisfied with the way democracy works and only one in five say they trust politicians, surely the alarm bells are ringing," she said.
Zali Steggall, the independent who ended former prime minister Tony Abbott's 25-year political career, also gave her maiden speech today, issuing a call for urgent action on climate change.
The winter Olympian said it was wrong to consider environmental issues as concerns of the left, praising the UK government for recently declaring a climate emergency.
"We can and must respond with the same determination and urgency," she told parliament.
The barrister also pointed to her other policy areas of interest, such as domestic violence, while calling for a new approach to mental health and rising suicide rates.
She wants the press and the ABC to be safeguarded, and has proposed a legal minimum of truth in political advertising.
"We can only reach our potential as a democracy if we believe in our institutions. As in sport, there can only be respect if you are playing by the rules."
- with AAP