Australia: Death of Ted Murphy – an outstanding champion of strong public education system and academic freedom

published 16 August 2022 updated 17 August 2022

The global education union community is saddened by the untimely passing on 8 August of Ted Murphy, former National Assistant Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in Australia, at the age of 65.

Former NTEU General Secretary and Education International’s Executive Board member Grahame McCulloch reminded that “Ted’s personal capacities and capabilities were well known to his many friends and colleagues not only in NTEU but also in the wider labour movement – exceptional intellectual and analytical ability, sharp political and negotiating skills, integrity and moral rigour and a highly refined rhetorical ability”.

Using these skills, Ted was a leading industrial and policy advocate in the Australian university and college systems, in the Labor Party at local Victorian and National levels, and in the trade union movement nationally and internationally, McCulloch said.

His achievements were extensive and of enduring value to NTEU members throughout Australia.

“We had the pleasure to welcome Ted as part of the NTEU delegation to our 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007 World Congresses,” stated Education International’s General Secretary David Edwards. He also represented his union at the 2004, 2006 and 2009 Conferences of our Asia-Pacific region.”

Edwards also underlined that Ted represented NTEU, Education International and the Australian Council of Trade Unions in international bodies (World Trade Organisation and International Labour Organization) on trade policy and labour standards and coauthored a major Education International’s report on academic freedom in the Asia-Pacific released in 1998.

“We know Australian and international educator unionists will have lost a friend, mentor and colleague who will be greatly missed by many in the trade union and labour movements,” he said.

Education International extended its condolences to Ted’s former colleagues in NTEU and to his family.