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Former Law Society president wants to restore trust and decency in government

Former NSW Law Society president Joanne van der Plaat said she has been embarrassed about the recent scandals within the government and hopes her move into politics can reinstate some trust and decency.

user iconNaomi Neilson 27 December 2023 Big Law
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A year on from her stint at the head of the Law Society, Ms van der Plaat has secured a spot as the Liberals’ candidate for Eden-Monaro for the next federal election, due to be held on or before September 2025.

Speaking on The Lawyers Weekly Show, Ms van der Plaat said it was her love of policy and people that inspired the political move, but she is also aspiring to bring back some level of trust, decency and respect that has been missing from the Liberal Party and Parliament House.

Referring to Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil’s claims that Peter Dutton voted to protect paedophiles over children in November, Ms van der Plaat said she was “quite embarrassed to sit there and watch something that I thought was actually worse than what I might find on a schoolyard”.


“We did a lot of work last year at the Law Society about trust in the legal profession, and a lot of those conversations we had are quite transferable to the way communities trust people in politics,” Ms van der Plaat said.

“I’m certainly wanting to bring back, or try and restore, some decency.”

Ms van der Plaat said there are also a number of issues “floating around in my own community” she hopes to address, including aged care, a politician’s ability, or lack thereof, to listen, and promoting economic viability within Australia’s regional, remote and rural locations.

Looking at it from a lawyer’s perspective, and with Ms van der Plaat’s experience, could be a huge benefit, she added.

“What we can do is bring a unique set of skills to the table.

“We are trained to look at policy or look at positions in a particular way and prosecute something. We have very good connections, and we have very good networks, and that is something that I would certainly be drawing upon if I was elected,” Ms van der Plaat said.

Ms van der Plaat said lawyers are “very privileged” to be in their positions, and this can be “so useful in helping people”.

“We are trained to have a voice.

“[It’s about] getting out there and listening and saying, ‘look, I don’t like this, and this doesn’t feel right, and how do I fix this’.

“One of the best ways to do that is to go straight to the source, and it is being able to shape policy and laws that work for us instead of the other way around,” Ms van der Plaat commented.

More than her experience as a lawyer, Ms van der Plaat said she is also a member of the Eden-Monaro community and a mother.

She told the show she is “facing the same issues you are facing”, from the price of petrol to the cost of a “leg of lamb at Woolies”, and can use her position on the ground to create practical solutions.

“If you wrap all of that up into one package, what you are going to get is someone who is fairly determined to prosecute some of the issues that I hold really close to my heart because, at the end of the day, what we want to see is economically sustainable rural and remote regions,” Ms van der Plaat said.

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