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Out of the shadow

Briefs

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2015 89 (1/2) LIJ, p.12

Victoria's new Attorney-General is looking forward to working with the LIV and its members after Labor's resounding victory at the state election.

Keysborough MP Martin Pakula was appointed the state’s Attorney-General after the Napthine Coalition government was ousted at the November poll.

Mr Pakula said the LIV does important work in helping legal professionals with resources, education, information, support services and networking opportunities. “The LIV has helped Victoria’s legal profession earn and maintain its reputation as a leader in Australia and in the region,” he said. “I wish LIV’s Council, executive and members all the best for the legal year.”

Mr Pakula had been shadow Attorney-General since 2010 while Labor was in opposition. He studied law at Monash University and served articles at Macpherson and Kelley Solicitors before entering politics.

One of the biggest upsets of the election was the victory of independent Suzanna Sheed, a family lawyer, who achieved a staggering 32.5 per cent swing to take the seat of Shepparton from the National Party for the first time in 47 years.

Ms Sheed, who is married to local paediatrician Peter Eastaugh, is well known in the Shepparton community as a director of SMR Legal, with more than 30 years legal experience.

But Ms Sheed admitted her win – after just four weeks campaigning – surprised even she. “When you start a campaign like this, you have to have in mind that we’re doing this to win but our goal absolutely was to try and make it a marginal seat. It would be fair to say that we exceeded our expectations,” Ms Sheed said.

She said her involvement in numerous community organisations, committees and boards led her to believe that Shepparton was being neglected compared to nearby marginal electorates such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

“Being a safe seat does not necessarily serve you well when you look at what the marginal seats seem to achieve by way of attention and investment and services.”

Ms Sheed’s campaign, which centred on making Shepparton marginal with the slogan “Stand Up Shepparton. It’s our turn”, struck a note with voters. She said she believed her long-term legal career would help her navigate and understand legislation while listening to constituents and pursuing their concerns could be likened to a lawyer receiving instructions from a client.

Ms Sheed was pivotal in helping the Goulburn Valley Law Association secure representation on the committee overseeing the redevelopment of the Shepparton Court House. She said there had been a campaign for decades for an overhaul of the court building.

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