Parliament to welcome at least 6 new lawmakers from legal profession

by Paolo Taruc02 Oct 2017
At least six people from the legal profession were elected for the first time in this year’s general election, according to the latest tally by the New Zealand Law Society. Two currently hold practicing certificates, while the other four previously held major roles in their respective law firms.

Duncan Webb regained Christchurch Central for Labour, while Chris Penk took Helensville for National.

Webb is a former partner in Lane Neave who stepped down from his role in Christchurch last year. Among other things, he acted for the Flockton Basin residents in the EQC flood litigation, and assisted the Problem Gambling Foundation when they sued Sky City.

Chris Penk is a former lawyer and partner of Ong and Penk. As he will take on a new role, the Auckland-based firm will be renamed to Ong and Partners. Penk said he focus on infrastructure and planning issues for his area, as well as environmental issues.

“The area west of Auckland has been growing a lot in recent years which is very exciting but it does put pressure on the area’s infrastructure,” he said. His constituency of Helensville was the same one held by former Prime Minister John Key from July 2002 to April this year.

The four other legal professionals elected for the first time are Harete Hipango, who held Whanganui for National; and Willow-Jean Prime, Kiri Allan, and Marja Lubeck of Labour.

Of the six newly elected, only Webb and Allan still hold practicing certificates. At least 31 people from the legal profession enrolled to stand for Parliament for the general election. They were among a total of 534 candidates from 16 registered political parties.

The law society said one more lawyer could be elected for the first time – human rights advocate Golriz Ghahraman of the Greens, who stands eighth on the party list after she was bumped up several places in the run-up to the election. The official results will be announced on 7 October.

Of those re-elected, current senior MPs with a legal background include Amy Adams, Christopher Finlayson, Judith Collins, Simon Bridges, Andrew Little, David Parker, and Winston Peters.

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