Lilly Murphy, who died from cancer on 4 November 2021, joined the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne when she was in high school. Like many other children of socialists, Lilly was in agreement with her parents’ general worldview. Her parents, Maureen Murphy and Richard Lane, met through left politics, and share a similar commitment to anti-capitalist, democratic, working class, revolutionary socialism, that fights for the rights of all oppressed people.
Richard Lane has been a supporter of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and predecessors since 1981. Lilly, unlike most children of socialists, and to Richard’s surprise, took a step further at only 14 years old by joining a socialist organisation, and contributing to its activities, for example the Socialist Alliance and Victorian Socialists election campaigns in the Moreland area in 2018-2019. Sue Bolton from the Socialist Alliance said that it was “after studying the different parties, [that] Lilly decided that she wanted to join a party but it had to be a socialist one.”
Richard asked Lilly, six weeks before she died, about her priorities if she had been able to continue her political activism. He says “Lilly was excited to have that conversation – to talk about something other than her condition, to be looking forward, I think to leave a legacy.”
She said climate change was her top priority. Lilly had already boldly helped to lead others in demanding climate action, in the School Strike for Climate protest on 30 November 2018. Lilly was among a group of students who tried to negotiate with the Principal for the date of a maths exam to be changed from 30 November.
The principal, obeying the instructions of the Education Department, refused. Lilly and several fellow students disobeyed the Principal, and took strike action to attend the protest. Richard said “I was so proud of the political leadership she showed there, and her determination that participating in that world-wide political statement was more important than missing a maths test!” Lilly spoke about School Strike 4 Climate to Solidarity and to Green Left.
Lilly’s other priorities were “gender equality-women's rights, LGBT rights, BLM (against the cops) and indigenous struggles.” Lilly “noted these were very ‘social’ issues but capitalism has an impact on them all.”
Lilly’s family has established a memorial fund to reflect her priorities.
Richard had discussed with Lilly how to use the sum of money in her trust fund, suggesting a memorial fund in her name. “She didn’t want that – never wanting to be in the spotlight. But she was OK about having one in her name and my sister Jenny’s.” So Lilly’s aunt, Jenny is honoured together with Lilly in the memorial fund. Jenny disappeared in 2004 near Alice Springs, soon after Lilly was born, and “had similar activist goals, especially around women and indigenous people.”
“To honour Lilly’s legacy, I ask you to consider donating to the memorial fund."
Speaking at Lilly’s funeral Richard asked that even more importantly than donating to Lilly’s fund, that we consider our own political activities. “In particular we are at a crucial turning point around climate change (Lil’s first priority), and our federal government has been embarrassingly slow in responding. Please think about ways you can engage around climate change and social justice issues wherever is appropriate – in your faith and other community groups; and for the ALP [Australian Labor Party] members here, hold your leaders to account on their policies.”
Richard concluded “Lilly has gone, and we have lost a wonderful person who would have continued to make a difference both personally and politically. Let’s carry her message forward.”
On behalf of AWL, we send our condolences to Lilly's family, Richard, Maureen and Alexei, and we mourn the loss of the further contribution that Lilly would have made to the struggle for socialism, had she lived longer.