From first lady of Labor to the bench
Fifteen years ago, Janine Lacy — along with her husband, Mark Latham, and their young children — was one overly firm handshake away from The Lodge.
Following Labor’s crushing defeat in the 2004 election, which followed the equally crushing handshake her husband delivered to prime minister John Howard on the eve of the poll, Ms Lacy’s life took a different turn.
The former Liberal staffer turned lawyer removed herself from the public spotlight, even as her husband’s association with the Labor Party ended in spectacular fashion, and set about carving out a successful career with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions.
On Wednesday, Ms Lacy’s professional career reached a new height, with the Berejiklian government announcing her as one of eight new magistrates appointed to the NSW Local Court.
Her ascension to the state’s bench of magistrates comes six months after Mr Latham’s political career was revived, when he was elected to the NSW upper house as a member for One Nation.
It creates an intriguing political and legal scenario: her husband is now intimately involved in the passing of the state’s laws, while Ms Lacy will rule upon them.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the new magistrates — six of whom are women — were appointed “following a rigorous merit-based selection process”.
He said the positions were advertised and a panel of four — Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson and three senior legal representatives — reviewed the written applications, interviewed some of the applicants and made recommendations to Mr Speakman.
Mr Latham said the government had not contacted him in relation to the appointment.
“I love my wife dearly,” he told The Australian on Wednesday.
“She has earned her position on merit and I’m sure she’ll do a fantastic job. I’ve got every single confidence that the government has handled this professionally and properly.
“It has had zero contact with me and the chances of swinging my vote on any matter, other than on its merits, of course, are zero.”
Ms Lacy could not be reached for comment, and her public utterances, as they relate to her husband’s colourful career, have been
almost non-existent in the 15 years since Mr Latham left federal parliament. She was barely seen on the hustings when Mr Latham was campaigning before the NSW election in March.
In 2016, she told The Weekend Australian that her husband — who took on the role of stayat-home dad for several years — had been one of her greatest champions. “Mark has always been an extraordinary supporter of my endeavours and my career,” she said.
Asked about some of Mr Latham’s more controversial skirmishes, Ms Lacy said her husband was “the bravest, most courageous person I know”.
Ms Lacy was previously the managing solicitor at the DPP’s Campbelltown office, in Sydney’s southwest, and was most recently deputy solicitor of the DPP’s Sydney West operations, where she supervised 150 solicitors and support staff.
She has appeared in the Local, Children’s and District Courts, with carriage of a range of criminal matters. She has also worked as a casual tutor in criminal law at Western Sydney University.
Janine Lacy and, below, with husband Mark Latham, in the lead-up to the 2004 federal election, the last time she was in the public spotlight