Judith was first elected to Parliament representing the Auckland seat of Clevedon in 2002. Following electorate boundary changes she was elected MP for Papakura in the 2008, 2011 and 2014 elections.
During her time as lead Minister of the Justice sector, Judith championed reform of New Zealand’s justice system. She prioritised putting victims at the heart of the Justice system by introducing and passing legislation to strengthen the rights of victims and expanding opportunities for them to be involved in the justice process. She also introduced non-contact orders to prohibit offenders from having any contact with the victim.
Judith introduced and passed law marking the most significant reforms of New Zealand’s Family Court system in thirty years, putting children and vulnerable people at the Family Court’s heart. She strengthened the Crimes Act to make it an offence to stay silent when it is known that a child or adult is at risk and committed to expanding the safe@home violence prevention programme to protect those at risk of repeat victimisation.
She championed new search and surveillance laws boosting the tools available to law enforcement agencies to fight crime, passed law to make it harder for those accused of serious offences to get bail and led change to New Zealand’s drinking culture through new laws reforming the sale and supply of alcohol.
Judith began the largest overhaul of law underpinning New Zealand’s courts. Her Judicature Modernisation Bill aims to improve the transparency of court and judicial processes and enhance New Zealanders’ trust and confidence in the justice system and includes – requiring written court judgments to be published online, unless there is a good reason not to, requiring the Judiciary to publish information on the numbers of outstanding judgments and increasing courts’ options to limit litigation by vexatious litigants.
Judith made combatting cyber-bullying a priority, increasing maximum penalties for the sexual abuse of children online, introduced Public Protection Orders to protect the public from serious sexual or violent offenders and launched New Zealand’s first Adult Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court.
As Minister for the Accident Compensation Corporation, Judith led a major culture change to ensure the corporation rebuilt New Zealanders’ trust and confidence in the scheme. She introduced free after-hours ACC visits for Under-6s and the Safety Star Rating System to make good safety records of businesses more visible.
As Minister of Police, Judith put 600 extra police on the frontline around the country, introduced and passed legislation to crush the cars of repeat illegal street racers, funded and supported the introduction of Tasers for police with better access to firearms for frontline officers.
When Minister of Corrections, Judith announced and implemented a full smoking ban in all prisons, brought private management back into the prison system and doubled the number of drug and alcohol treatment places. She increased the number of prisoners receiving work skills training by 1000, boosted literacy and numeracy education in prisons and increased double bunking by 900 beds.
In Opposition, Judith campaigned successfully to force an inquiry into the effect of Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans and was awarded the Ex-Vietnam Services Association Pin and Badge for her work.
Prior to her election to Parliament, Judith was a lawyer and company director. She was Chair of the Casino Control Authority and served as President of the Auckland District Law Society and Vice-President of the New Zealand Law Society.
Judith is a Vice-Patron of the Ex-Vietnam Services Association Children’s and Grandchildren’s Trust, supporting children of Vietnam veterans. She is also a member of the Fulbright New Zealand Alumni Association, a member of Global Women New Zealand and an honorary life member of the Long Range Desert Group and the New Zealand Sappers’ Association.
She holds a Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws with Honours and a Master of Taxation Studies from the University of Auckland. In 2013, Judith was selected to attend and completed the Leadership Decision Making (LDM) executive program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in the United States.
Judith is married and lives with her family in Auckland.