Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Falconio, Mr P.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (15:50): No parent should ever have to bury their own child. Worse still, no parent should have to grieve the loss of their child without knowing where their remains are. That is the dreadful predicament Joan and Luciano Falconio have been forced to endure for the past 21 years after their beloved son Peter was murdered in the Northern Territory in 2001 in a case that attracted worldwide attention.

Peter was just 28 years old, on a trip of a lifetime with his then girlfriend, Joanne Lees, when he was shot dead and his body dumped in Australia's remote outback by deranged killer Bradley Murdoch. Peter would have turned 50 last week, a tragic milestone that sparked Mrs Falconio to reach out to me desperately seeking help.

Like any of us in the same predicament, the Falconios simply want closure. They want to bring Peter's remains home to be closer to his family and loved ones. In an emotional email, Mrs Falconio appealed to anyone with a conscience to reveal where her son's remains are. She and her husband, Luciano, who are aged 75 and 80 respectively, feel the Northern Territory Police have given up on them. In her email to me, Mrs Falconio wrote:

We want to bring Peter home where he belongs near his family. Our pain is always with us.

He was murdered 21 years ago, aged just 28 years.

His murderer, Bradley Murdoch, is as far as I know in Darwin Prison.

Peter has a beautiful niece and two lovely nephews who he never got to see or know.

I am appealing to anyone with a conscience to help me however small to tell me where he was put.

His life stopped on a lonely road—the Stuart Highway on 14th July 2001. Shot dead by cowardly Murdoch, who will not reveal where or what he did with him.

My heart breaks for the Falconios, including Peter's three brothers, Mark, Nicholas and Paul. That is why I have written to the Northern Territory's Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, and police minister, Kate Worden, urging the Northern Territory government to post a $1 million reward for the recovery of Peter's remains and for the Northern Territory Police to embark on a new media campaign in the hope that new evidence will be forthcoming as to where Peter's body was dumped. I have also asked the Northern Territory Police to consider engaging specialised forensic archaeologists with expertise in locating gravesites to conduct fresh searches of likely burial places.

Peter's murder remains one of Australia's most baffling outback mysteries. Murdoch is serving life imprisonment in the Darwin Correctional Centre for Peter's murder and the abduction of Ms Lees on a lonely stretch of the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek in the Northern Territory in 2001. Miraculously, Ms Lees, who today is 47 and lives in seclusion near Huddersfield in the United Kingdom, managed to escape by hiding in surrounding bush. She remains deeply affected by the ordeal.

Murdoch is believed to have disposed of the body somewhere between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700 kilometres away in Western Australia, an area covered by a vast expanse of desert. Despite police searches near the scene of the murder, no remains have been found. Mrs Falconio reached out to me soon after I was elected to the South Australian parliament after I covered Peter's disappearance with the Seven Network. I believe Murdoch either disposed of the body on Neutral Junction Station in the Northern Territory or in the Tanami Desert after he filled up his vehicle with petrol in Alice Springs and fled to Broome.

Murdoch will be eligible for parole in 10 years but will not be released under the territory's 'no body, no release' policy for convicted murderers. Somebody must know where Peter's body was dumped or might have some information or recollection that could be useful to police, no matter how insignificant they might think it is. Joan, Luciano, Mark, Nicholas and Paul Falconio and their families deserve closure after all these years of grieving and uncertainty. I will keep my fingers crossed.