Former HSF partner named sex-discrimination commissioner

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Former Herbert Smith Freehills partner Kate Jenkins has been named the new federal sex discrimination commissioner.

The announcement made by minister for women Michaelia Cash and attorney-general George Brandis puts an end to speculation that Peta Credlin would step into the role.  Jenkins’ appointment comes five months after Elizabeth Broderick finished her term in September.

“The first thing I'll be doing is to talk to as many people in as many parts of Australia I can to get an idea and listen to the real experiences and then from that I'll come up with some clear priorities,” Jenkins said in an interview with Sky News.

Jenkins, who headed up HSF’s Australian equal opportunity practice, was appointed the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner back in 2013.

In a Brandis told Senate estimates that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had rejected his original choice for commission and that Turnbull had sent him away to set up a more thorough process for selection.

“Mr Turnbull and I had a conversation, the outcome of which was we decided that an arm's length process of selection should be adopted ... and that arm's length process of selection has resulted in the appointment that was decided by cabinet yesterday,” Brandis said.

The Women's Leadership Institute Australia welcomed the government's decision, describing her as an “inspired choice”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.