Friday, 31 March 2023
The Law Society of NSW has congratulated Premier-elect Chris Minns on his victory in the 2023 state election and has confirmed the Law Society’s readiness to establish a productive working relationship with him and his new ministry as a trusted voice on law reform matters and issues affecting the administration of justice.
The President of the Law Society Cassandra Banks said she looks forward to working closely with the Premier, the new Attorney General Michael Daley and other ministers after Her Excellency the Governor this morning appointed an interim Labor ministry at a swearing in ceremony at Government House.
“The Law Society represents NSW’s 38,000 solicitors and its 18 policy committees are fortunate to be served by around 400 volunteer lawyers, expert in their field,” Ms Banks said.
“This readily available expertise enables the Law Society to provide carefully considered, evidence-based submissions on law reform proposals, both directly to ministers and to the Parliament through its various committees.
“I look forward to a constructive, consultative relationship between the Law Society and the incoming Government. Experience has shown that including the Law Society in the early stages of consultation over reforms or other legislative changes improves policy outcomes.
“Conversely, we have seen a lack of consultation with legal practitioners possessing extensive real-world experience can lead to problematic, unintended outcomes.”
Ms Banks has offered to meet with Mr Daley as soon as possible to discuss the legislative priorities of the incoming Government and to refamiliarise him with the Law Society’s 2023 NSW Election Platform.
The Platform sets out policy proposals to improve access to justice through appropriate resourcing of the courts and justice system, as well as reforms that can help create a safer, fairer community.
Key law and justice priorities include:
- Immediate implementation of all remaining criminal justice related recommendations of the Ice Inquiry, including the introduction of a pre-court diversion scheme for small quantity drug possession offences;
- Better resourcing of court infrastructure, especially in the Local Court of NSW and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), including investments driven by anticipated demand, for example in areas like South West Sydney.
- More and upgraded technology (like Audio Visual Links) and keeping COVID-related procedures that improved the efficiency of the justice system;
- Increased funding for legal assistance with housing and homelessness to assist vulnerable tenants find and keep their homes;
- More legal training for Police to help prevent or reduce complaints about police conduct, particularly when in contact with vulnerable people
- Policies to reduce incarceration of Indigenous people and to reduce the number of Indigenous children in the care and protection system;
Ms Banks has expressed appreciation to outgoing Attorney General Mark Speakman for his valuable work during six active years as NSW’s First Law Officer.
“Mr Speakman’s conduct in office has earned him the enduring respect of the NSW legal profession. The Law Society did not always agree with the Government’s positions on law reform issues, but Mr Speakman’s integrity and willingness to listen to a range of voices has provided an example for his successors as Attorney General to follow,” Ms Banks said.
“During his period as Attorney General, the Local Court bench achieved gender parity, and the first female solicitor appointed directly to the Supreme Court attained the second highest judicial office in the state as President of the NSW Court of Appeal.
“The Law Society was successful during Mr Speakman’s time as Attorney General in pressing for funding for extra judicial officers on the Local Court and District Court benches. His expansion of the Youth Koori Court, the Drug Court (including to Dubbo) and Circle Sentencing will prove to be valuable contributions to delivering fairer justice for Aboriginal people.
“During Mr Speakman’s tenure, a ground-breaking agreement in late 2021, brokered between the Government, Legal Aid, the Law Society, the Department of Justice and Treasury, helped ensure the preservation of public confidence in professional standards and funding crucial legal services for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our state.