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Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

An authorised history of Green MP Sue Bradford.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on February 25, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH New Zealand

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

From Green Party website:Spokesperson for: ACC, Arts and Culture (Assoc.), Community and Volunteer Sector, Community Economic Development and Small Business, Employment, Gambling, Housing, Industrial Relations, Internal Affairs, Mental Health, National Library and Archives, Racing, Regional Development. Rural Affairs, Social Services.

Government spokesperson for: Buy Kiwi Made

Born: 1952

Sue was the New Zealand’s Herald’s Backbencher of the Year 2000.

Creating radical change

“There are three distinct ways to consciously create radical change,” says Sue Bradford. “One is to throw rocks at the system from the outside. One is to build people’s organisations within the shell of a malfunctioning system. The third way is to go inside and change the system from within.”

Sue’s life is a history of working for change in one or another of these three ways since her early teens.

She has been an activist for social justice, peace and women’s issues from 1967, protesting against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons and apartheid and for the rights of women and the unemployed.

She has set up people’s organisations, amongst them the Auckland Unemployed Workers Rights Centre and then the Auckland People’s Centre, a ‘union’ for unemployed workers and beneficiaries and other low income people.

First elected to parliament in 1999, she is now a second term MP and third on the Green Party list – ‘inside’ and working to change the system from within. From her maiden speech in February 2000:

There is work to be done everywhere, and I remain committed to the groups and people from which I come. But I also felt that I had had enough of battering my head against brick walls and lines of police, including outside this very building. For 16 years I and others have been putting up many constructive solutions to unemployment and poverty, in theory and in practice, only to be marginalised and brutalised.

America and the Vietnam War

Daughter of an American mother and a father active in the Mount Albert branch of the Labour party, Sue says she was a “rebel”.

Already interested in politics, she moved in 1965 with her family to live in Madison, Wisconsin for a year – the site of one of the largest airbases in America.

Some of her classmates had boyfriends leaving for the Vietnam War. She was right in the middle of the vast upheaval of politics in the mid-1960s, Vietnam War protests and the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Sue became a campaigner for peace.

She describes the second big shift in her thinking when she was arrested for the first time in 1969.

Only sixteen years old, she had taken part in the first sit-in in New Zealand as part of an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, an occupation of the US consulate in Auckland.

While she was locked up in the cells, going to court and meeting other people in the same situation, her experience became “thinking about how other people lived their lives and making a decision about whose side I was on.”

By that stage, Sue was a Communist.

Although never a member of the Communist Party, she had become a member of the Progressive Youth Movement in Auckland in 1967.

She voraciously studied political theory and history, and was to go on to study the same subjects at university. By 1969, however, she rejected totalitarian communism and became a hippy, albeit at the political edge of hippydom.

Women’s Liberation

From 1969, Sue lived above Resistance Bookshop, a political organising base with its own printing press and shop. She dates the next step in her political development to 1970, and Women’s Liberation.

Inspired by an awareness of the situation of women in other countries as well as in New Zealand, she was involved in setting up the first Women’s Liberation group in New Zealand on the floor of the Kiwi Tavern in Auckland (now, sadly, a carpark).

The 70s were rocky. Sue completed her Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics at Auckland University and went on to complete a postgraduate diploma in journalism at the University of Canterbury in 1974.

She continued to be politically active, taking part in protests right up until the end of the Vietnam War and picking up new issues such as women’s liberation and gay rights.

Twins and Chinese

In 1975 she worked as a journalist in Wellington. A year later she had twin boys, Richard and Daniel, breaking up with their father very shortly after they were born.

Back in Auckland, she went on the DPB and endured some very difficult years. “My life was broken – I was pretty depressed.” Her solution was to do something for herself; she returned to Auckland University part-time to pick up Chinese again.

She was, ultimately, to take her studies through to Masters level. In 1981 she went to China on a government scholarship – “a fantastic, amazing experience”.

Early in 1980 Sue met Bill, who became her husband and, later, the father of Katie, Joe and Sam.

Her political activism recommenced in spectacular style. She returned to New Zealand from China just in time for the Springbok Tour. She became part of the mobilising committee and direct action squads, all while pregnant with her daughter Katie.

“The direct action squads were a safer place to be than the front lines for a pregnant woman,” she explains “because you were arrested straight away.” And she was arrested many times.

Sue has never stopped being politically active since.

People’s organisations

During the 1980s the rich became richer and the number of unemployed and poor people in New Zealand grew … and grew.

Sue made a deliberate choice that she’d rather put her discretionary time into working doing something she believed in rather than either staying home or looking for fulltime paid work.

She describes her role from 1983 as that of a community development worker and political organiser. She helped set up the Unemployed Workers Rights Centre, which grew during the 1980s from a group focused on welfare advocacy and political direct action to a seeding organisation for other organisations.

These included the Auckland Region Employment Resource Centre, which provided advice and support for those contemplating self-employment or cooperative or group enterprise.

Next came the People’s Centre, an organisation set up in 1990 for unemployed people and beneficiaries and other low income people from throughout the Auckland region. For $10 per month fee per family members were given free medical care, hairdressing, advocacy, cheap dental treatment and a host of other services.

By the time Sue left the People’s Centre to come to Parliament in December 1999 there were three centres operating in Auckland, Manurewa and Mangere, with around 4,500 member families.

She and her co-workers had built these organisations out of nowhere. “With our bare hands! We built them out of nothing. These people had absolutely no money.” The whole experience – building an organisation, managing its exponential growth, conflict resolution, recruiting and retaining volunteers and paid staff was for Sue the equivalent of an MBA.

Although she had never trained in management, she ended up teaching not-for-profit management/governance at Unitec in Auckland from 1995-99. She’d discovered how important it was for community groups to find ways of learning from their own and each other’s mistakes while retaining the values base on which they’d been founded.

Local and national politics

Although Sue’s focus has always been on national politics – the type of issues she is interested in are best addressed at national level – she stood for the Auckland mayoralty in 1998. This was a strategic move, designed to build support and visibility for the Green Party in Auckland before the 1999 election.

At that election, of course, Sue was 4th on the party list and elected to Parliament.

By the time of the 2005 election Sue had moved to no 3 on the list, and now holds portfolios in Employment, Welfare, Industrial Relations, ACC, Housing, Buy Kiwi Made, Regional Development, Agriculture, Housing, Community & Voluntary Sector and Social Services, amongst others.

She is also currently championing three Private Member’s Bills through Parliament aimed at:

Repealing s59 of the Crimes Act which allows parents a defence of ‘reasonable force’ when they physically discipline their children.

Ending discriminatory minimum wages for 16 & 17 year old workers.

Improving the situation for mothers with babies in prison.

“One of my main motivations for entering Parliament as an MP was the years of work I spent with others on finding solutions to poverty,” she explains. “We tried to get our ideas across to the government but with no luck. At last I have the opportunity to challenge these people in person and to try and effect real change should the Green Party become part of Government while I’m still an MP.”

Life now – inside and outside Parliament

Sue faces life and politics head on; she’s experienced, pragmatic, articulate and courageous. She has spoken publicly about her own experiences of rape and losing a child to mental illness and suicide.

Over the last 12 years Sue and her family have lived first on a small cooperative farm close to Wellsford and then at Wainui Junction near Kaitaia. This year (2006) sees her moving back to Auckland for family and political reasons. She continues the eternal MPs’ juggling act of balancing the needs of family members with those of the Green Party and Parliament.

Somehow she manages to squeeze in ‘volunteer time’ at the Kotare Research and Education for Social Change Trust, which focuses on participatory adult education for organisations working towards justice, environmental sustainability and positive social change. “It keeps my feet in the mud.”

Rewind to her 10 year old self, driven to find the answer to one big question: “What can I do about all the injustice in the world?” Now, forty years on, she’s still working on the answer.

Doing work you believe in is a great privilege

Green MP, political activist and mother of five Sue Bradford talks about what she’s learned about life so far …

By Ana Samways, New Zealand Herald, 14 April 2005

Babies and children are actually fully realised humans and should be treated as such from the time they’re born. This is the first thing I learned, obviously having started from the same place we all do. But many of us forget this and treat our babies and children as if they deserve less respect than adults. Smacking kids is a good example of this: we can legally hit children, but not adults. The results are physical damage, but more so the psychological damage.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.
Every year at school they used to ask us what our career goal was. Every year I wrote something different – teacher, soldier, diplomat, journalist, mother, actor, writer, politician, academic. Much later I realised that in some way I’ve been all these things at some point in my life and being an MP certainly embraces a number of them. Working at “heart” work – work that you believe in – is a great privilege for me. Which is not to say I haven’t done some very ordinary jobs in my time.

“I” is actually more important than “we”. I grew into political life in the late 60s, when the song We Shall Overcome was one of our anthems. Much later I learned that the original wording for this song as “I shall overcome”. Afro-American civil rights activists thought the “I” was much more powerful than “we” because it meant a personal commitment to taking action, not a soft liberal approach where some singers were relying on someone else to face the police batons or organise the next demonstration.

Being psychologically broken at some point in your life is not the end of the world. As long as you can recover from it. This taught me long ago the cardinal virtue of humility, and of living in each moment and each day to the fullest extent possible.

Activists: make your message clear. The media had a field-day with the women who bared their breasts during Prince Charles’ visit. My problem with their stand was that it wasn’t clear what they were protesting about. In the early 90s we occupied Michael Fay’s front lawn in Auckland. We swam in his pool to show the contradiction of National cutting benefits while throwing money at the America’s Cup. That was a clear message.

I still believe, as I did when I was 15, that you can commit your life to making the world a better place. But you have to stick with it for the long haul. At that time I wanted to know when I died that I’d done all I could do to help all people to have a full life, not just those born lucky, rich, strong or beautiful.

Time in police cells and prison can be lonely and degrading, but also sacred. Great places for learning about self and life. I was first arrested at 16 in 1969 for an occupation of the American Consulate in Queen St. We were protesting against the Vietnam War. I was locked up and strip-searched. That made me decide whose side I was on – the side of people who haven’t had the chances I had.

Losing a child was the worst thing that ever happened to me and my heart has never mended. I also know that there are a whole lot of other people who have been through this too, and ours is a sad but universal experience.

There are three ways to make radical social and environmental change. 1) Working within the system; 2) throwing rocks at the system from outside; 3) building new organisations within the shell of the old system. People who take these three paths should all be valued for their contribution.

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Voting Record of Anti-Smacking Bill – Second Reading.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on February 25, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH New Zealand

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

(Irony Central: David Benson Pope voted FOR the Anti-Smacking Bill). 

How Our MPs Voted for Bradford’s Bill:FOR 70

Labour (49): Rick Barker, Tim Barnett, David Benson-Pope, Mark Burton, Chris Carter, Steve Chadwick, Charles Chauvel, Ashraf Choudhary, Helen Clark, Clayton Cosgrove, Michael Cullen, David Cunliffe, Lianne Dalziel, Harry Duynhoven, Ruth Dyson, Russell Fairbrother, Darien Fenton, Martin Gallagher, Phil Goff, Mark Gosche, Ann Hartley, George Hawkins, Dave Hereora, Marian Hobbs, Pete Hodgson, Parekura Horomia, Darren Hughes, Annette King, Shane Jones, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Moana Mackey, Steve Maharey, Nanaia Mahuta, Trevor Mallard, Sue Moroney, Damien O’Connor, Mahara Okeroa, David Parker, Jill Pettis, Lynne Pillay, Mita Ririnui, Ross Robertson, Dover Samuels, Lesley Soper, Maryan Street, Paul Swain, Judith Tizard, Margaret Wilson, Dianne Yates.

Greens (6): Sue Bradford, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Sue Kedgley, Keith Locke, Nandor Tanczos, Metiria Turei.

National (6): Paula Bennett, Jackie Blue, Chester Borrows, Paul Hutchison, Simon Power, Katherine Rich.

Maori Party (4): Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira, Pita Sharples, Tariana Turei.

New Zealand First (3): Doug Woolerton, Brian Donnelly, Barbara Stewart.

Progressives (1): Jim Anderton.

United Future (1): Peter Dunne.


National (42): Shane Ardern, Chris Auchinvole, David Bennett, Mark Blumsky, Gerry Brownlee, David Carter, John Carter, Bob Clarkson, Jonathan Coleman, Judith Collins, Brian Connell, Jacqui Dean, Bill English, Christopher Finlayson, Craig Foss, Jo Goodhew, Sandra Goudie, Tim Groser, Nathan Guy, John Hayes, Phil Heatley, Tau Henare, John Key, Colin King, Wayne Mapp, Murray McCully, Allan Peachey, Eric Roy, Tony Ryall, Katrina Shanks, Clem Simich, Lockwood Smith, Nick Smith, Georgina te Heuheu, Lindsay Tisch, Anne Tolley, Chris Tremain, Nicky Wagner, Kate Wilkinson, Maurice Williamson, Pansy Wong, Richard Worth.

ACT (2): Rodney Hide, Heather Roy.

New Zealand First (4): Peter Brown, Ron Mark, Pita Paraone, Winston Peters.

United Future (2): Gordon Copeland, Judy Turner.

Independent (1): Taito Phillip Field.

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