Author(s): Jenny Chamberlain
Sue Bradford is half American and sixth generation Kiwi on her father’s side -- her European missionary genes date from 1820s Northland. Despite her grassroots New Zild twang, she was raised in Auckland by middle class, bohemian intellectuals and survived a childhood made difficult by her brilliant but domineering father.
Fast forward through the tumultuous Vietnam War protest era, the 1981 Springbok Tour and 16 years in the invisible community sector where she became, with husband Bill, a loud voice and a highly effective organiser for society’s marginalised, and Sue suddenly and unexpectedly found herself in Parliament. From December 1999, as a hardworking, and much admired Green MP she managed a hefty portfolio and succeeded in getting three member’s bills into legislation, including her contentious bill to amend section 59 of the Crimes Act. Her mainstream political career ended, abruptly and disappointingly, five months after she lost the May 2009 Green Party co-leadership contest. Subsequently she achieved a PhD and transformed herself into Dr Sue Bradford -- activist and academic. Her readable thesis on the need for a major left wing think tank in Aotearoa has been downloaded in full almost 3,000 times and Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA), the infant left think tank she set up as a result, is growing lustily.
Sue Bradford is still evolving but in terms of what matters most, her core social justice principles, she remains constant.