Friday, 12 September 2008

Big ups for Sue Bradford

Green MP Sue Bradford is without doubt my favourite Member of the current Parliament. She's walked the talk on child discipline, as the prime mover behind the amendement of s59 of the Crimes Act, and pushed our lawmakers to take meaningful steps towards abolishing the youth minimum wage. Not to mention her contribution to the general leftwingedness of the Greens, and her willingness to discuss and debate her politics in a civilised and open-hearted manner in the media as well as in the House.

This week she had another victory, which will mean a significant improvement for some of the most vulnerable women and children in our community, with the passage of her Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Bill into law yesterday. You can read Bradford's speech on the final reading at the Greens' website. Here's an extract:

There are heart rending stories, some of which we heard during the Select Committee process, of mothers who went through the emotional rollercoaster of being told, while pregnant, that they could and then couldn’t keep their baby in an on-again off-again fashion that is absolutely devastating. We heard of the grief and trauma of having your baby taken from your arms after the allocated time was up.

We heard of women who have turned their lives around after being allowed the privilege of keeping their babies with them – evidence came to us that for some women, the opportunity to keep their baby with them in prison was lifechangingly positive. We’ve also heard of the opposite effect on the chances of rehabilitation when your baby is torn away from you.

Bradford's latest bill will change that environment and give those mothers, and their children, a chance. They'll be able to breastfeed, and babies will be able to live with their mothers, which will have a big impact on rehabilitation for Mum and feeling loved and connected for Bubs.

I don't know Bradford at all really, although I have talked to her at a few things, and we've exchanged the odd email about various matters over the years. What always strikes me about her is her compassion, which seems to me, as an outsider looking in, to be motivating her to achieve positive change for those so often marginalised in our society.

As Idiot/Savant points out, Sue has done an amazing job with her strategy of seeking improvement through the Members' Bill process:

...this means that Sue Bradford has hit the trifecta, and had three members' bills passed in a single term. This is an incredible achievement - looking back, no single MP has had more than a single bill passed in the whole 1996 - 2008 period. Getting three through is a testament to Bradford's skill at picking issues, negotiating compromises, and assembling majorities. These are all vital skills under MMP, and other parties could learn a lot from her.
When Bradford was first elected there were many who thought her public history of controntation and protest would be ill-suited to life in the House. Yet now her achievements show how well she has adapted, whilst still staying true to her values, and the reasons she ran for Parliament in the first place. Surely she could now be seen as Jeanette Fitzsimmons' successor in the Greens' co-leadership role, or am I just too optimistic?


Phil said...

yeah, what a great idea - just as the 2 year old is getting attached to its mother on a long lag, along comes CYFS and takes it away...brilliant

Carol said...

I have heard from a reliable source, that at least 1 Nat woman MP claims Sue Bradford is about the most capable MP in the House.

stargazer said...

yes, it's such a bad idea phil that sue managed to get cross party support across the house ie the national party as well as labour voted for this. even though they heard all the evidence and the arguments, i guess you still know better than all of them.

Make Tea Not War said...

I think Sue Bradford is great as well. I don't know her though I've met her a couple of times but everything I have seen her do makes me think she is a genuine person with integrity, courage and a huge heart. I was intending to vote for the Greens anyway but when I saw she had released a policy on addressing child poverty I became even more determined to do so. That is exactly the sort of policy that I want to see discussed and addressed.

Kakariki said...

And it was ironic that the breastfeeding bill passed through in the same week that Auckland Police refused to allow a lawyer to take a four month old baby into the holding cells to get a feed from a mother.

In regards to leadership, Sue's not the only credible contender. Being Leader is not just about having a strong legislative record, it's also about strong leadership. It's going to be interesting when the mantle passes over. I for one am proud to be part of a Party that's spoilt for choice when it comes to female leadership!

Hugh said...

Really it's a shame Sue wasn't able to stand for the leadership position that became vacant when Rod Donald died. She'd have been a shoo-in.

Julie said...

@phil, you are ignoring the fact that there may be a) another parent (that would be the FATHER), b) grandparents, c) aunts and uncles, who may be able to care for the child until the mother is free again. Or indeed that the mother may not be in prison that long. I think we should not underestimate the redemptive change that a baby can make in a parent's life.

@Tea, I have to say Sue Bradford makes me want to give my party vote to the Greens, for the first time in my voting history.

@kakariki, thanks for mentioning that, I heard about it too but had forgotten. That kind of thing is just so appalling, it really went to my gut when I heard about it, as a woman currently breastfeeding an 8 month old, I just know how much worse the anguish of incarceration would be if I couldn't feed him, couldn't be with him.

Anonymous said...

Phil - are you implying that a child under two is not going to be attached to its mother? My experience is that an infant is born bonded with its mother but separation can easily break that bond whereas a two year old is quite capable of maintaining a bond over distance.

Also I'd imagine that mothers on "long lags" would be a lot less likely to be eligible to keep their babies in the first place.