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The Nation: Under-Secretary for Justice, Jan Logie

On Newshub Nation Saturday 24 March:

Lisa Owen interviews Under-Secretary for Justice, Jan Logie.

Lisa Owen: I’m joined now by Under-Secretary for Justice, Jan Logie. Can I start by saying there was a huge strength of feeling in that conversation and clearly a feeling from some that there is no confidence in the industry that it will self-regulate and rectify the problems. So the foxes looking after the hen house was the feeling there. Do you agree with that?
Jan Logie: Actually, I want to acknowledge the women who have been brave enough to come forward and tell their stories and just to say that I am absolutely committed—And just to acknowledge the bravery of the women in the stories, and that is not an easy thing to do and that we are absolutely committed to making sure that their bravery pays off in systemic change.
So you’re acknowledging the fact it’s a very difficult conversation to have and that the women this morning came in and started the ball rolling – in essence, kept it rolling – people are talking about it. So the fact that they have no confidence—well, there are some people who have no confidence in the Law Society to police itself. Do you hold those concerns?
The Minister for Justice has been really clear that he has been looking for evidence that they are going to treat this seriously, and in the absence of that, he is going to step in and order an inquiry. And I think that is showing leadership from this government, and we do need to recognise this isn’t happening…
I’m sorry. We’re going to have to take a quick commercial break. We’ll be back. We’ll get the sound sorted so we can carry on this conversation. Apologies.
Welcome back. I’m with Under-Secretary Jan Logie. So, Andrew Little will wade in if things with the Law Society are not dealt with as he thinks is proper. So can we take from that that this is being taken seriously? Or is it just going to be some more window dressing.
No. Absolutely this is being taken seriously right across government, and I’ve got a real commitment for dealing with this in the detail and the complexity of it. There are a lot of things that we need to look at right across our system. So we need good workaround prevention and education, and we need to make sure our policies are kind to people making complaints and victims, and we need to look at the fact that the fox is in the hen house and need to look at what are our options for external accountability and investigation.
One of the suggestions this morning was making companies of a certain size report the numbers of upheld complaints. How do you feel about that?
I think you need to look at that in detail. We don’t want to create an environment that discourages people from making complaints because they’re seen to penalise their employer, who they are wanting to stay in the employment of.
Okay. So, the Criminal Bar Association survey found that 65 per cent of respondents said the person bullying or harassing them or what they witnessed was by a judge. Now, they’re employed by the Crown through your ministry. What can you do about that?
Well, there’s a constitutional separation of power. I’ve got to say I’m deeply worried by that survey result and in the context of a one per cent conviction rate for sexual violence in our country at the moment, I think we have to look at this in more detail. And part of my job is dealing with that context of sexual violence and improving our justice system.
So what are you saying there when you talk about the one per cent conviction rate and the fact that a large number of people are identifying judges as having harassing behaviour?
Well, I think it’s deeply worrying, and we know there are lots of barriers—
Are you saying you might not be able to see it in other people?
Well, I’m saying that that’s potentially an issue, and what are the barriers for people reporting to the police and going through that court process if they look and see that the judges are complicit in bullying or sexual harassment? That’s not building confidence and it is a problem.
So is that something you will take up with the minister?
So, we are looking at the work around sexual violence and improving our justice system, and so this information, clearly the minister’s going to be looking at it.
Okay, well, the government is the country’s biggest employer, isn’t it? So change, they say, has to come from the top. So what are you going to do within those organisations? Because you have the power to change the ministry and other large employers. So what specifically?
Well, I don’t want to jump to the specifics too quickly because we need to work out the detail of that. You take from the conversation this morning it’s not simple. But I would say some work was done in the wake of Roger Sutton to bring all the guidelines in relation to sexual harassment across the public service together. I don’t have evidence that anybody’s done anything with that or that those guidelines are being followed at the moment.
So you’re going to make sure that they are followed and enforced. One thing that has come up during these conversations is this idea of anonymous references, where victims can be obviously re-victimised by people giving them a bad reference anonymously. Why don’t you say that Government departments and ministries won’t accept anonymous references?
Well, I think that’s something that we need to look at is that anonymous process without consequences but notification, and it’s also going back to making sure that employers, regardless of whether somebody’s taking a complaint, take their job and their legal obligation to provide a safe duty, a safe workplace, seriously. And this could be a tool to help them with that.
A quiet concern with it, though, is that I don’t want all our effort to go into that and saying that, okay, we know our system doesn’t work, so we’re just going to accept that it doesn’t work and set up an anonymous system. We need to make sure our system works.
All right. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. That’s Jan Logie.
Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz

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