As Jacinda Ardern sits in her new chair as Labour Party leader, she will also be focused upon some of the things that occupied her mind as former Justice Spokesperson.
She may not be a lawyer, but what ‘legal credentials’ does she hold that may indicate what an Ardern-lead Labour Government would mean for the law profession?
As Labour’s Justice spokesperson, she has commented on everything from suicide rates (“Government moves to tackle suicide are sadly not making the inroads”) to the escape of Phillip John Smith (“a chain of failure by government departments”)
Here are five key things about the new Labour leader that impact upon their policy.
1. Access to Justice
She has always been big on these issues, including legal aid reform and the like. Expect a strong emphasis on enhancing justice for lower income families and individuals in particular.
2. Arbitration & Mediation
She has displayed increased interest in using arbitration and mediation as a means to lighten court workloads, particularly from lengthy cases such as the recent announcement of yet another Colin Craig defamation trial, set down for three weeks.
3. Increased focus on family court reform
She is very keen to stop delays in the family court and the need for urgent applications
The need for better and faster justice for families without money is a key concern.
4. Cannabis reform
There is a greater chance of receiving reform of the law relating to the use of cannabis
in medical cases as a “matter of personal freedom and compassion”, as she wrote last year. The door is also open to wider reforms in respect of cannabis use.
5. Adoption law reform
She has previously criticised the government for failing to prioritise adoption law reform, particulary
as it affects the 60-year-old law regarded by the Human Rights Review Tribunal as ‘discriminatory’, drawing her attention and requesting urgent reform.
There will be others, no doubt, but the newly-annointed Labour leader will clearly show the Party’s strong emphasis upon social issues affecting its traditional blue collar membership. Meanwhile, former leader Andrew Little has assumed the mantle of Justice spokesman given the seat-swapping that has occurred this week.