No Green deal for Labour Party in Hutt South battle

Hutt South Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven (left) and Rimutaka candidate Stefan Grand-Meyer (right) help clean up ...
PHOTO: Simon Edwards

Hutt South Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven (left) and Rimutaka candidate Stefan Grand-Meyer (right) help clean up the Melling Line earlier this year.

Labour will have to win Hutt South without help from the Green Party in the September election.

There has been speculation the Greens would do a similar deal to Ohariu, where they agreed to step aside to give Labour a clear run against United Future's Peter Dunne.

Constitutional lawyer and Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven  said the situation in Hutt South was different.

Hutt South Greens candidate Susanne Ruthven.
PHOTO: Simon Edwards

Hutt South Greens candidate Susanne Ruthven.

Dunne was likely to be needed to help National form a government and unseating him would help Labour.

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That was not the case in Hutt South, which would see  a close battle between National list MP Chris Bishop and Labour's Ginny Andersen.

In the last election Trevor Mallard defeated Bishop by 709 votes, with Green candidate Holly Walker third with 4966. National won the party vote by just under 7000 votes.

 Andersen said there had never been an expectation that the Greens would not contest Hutt South. If Green voters wanted Hutt South to remain Labour they had to vote strategically.

"I am saying to Green voters give me your candidate's vote if you want to keep Hutt South Labour."

She planned  to push the message that if Green voters wanted a change in government, then they needed to vote Labour.

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Ruthven stood for Rimutaka in 2014, where she was fourth behind New Zealand First, but this time was standing in the electorate she lived in and was looking to do well.

She has an impressive CV, which includes extensive experience in international law and human rights.

Although the Greens were often perceived as only being interested in environmental issues, her motivation in standing reflected her legal interests.

National, she believed, has repeatedly eroded rights by passing legislation under urgency.

The proposed Urban Development Authorities to reduce red tape in areas where more houses were needed also concerned her. Residents would lose the right to have a say on developments in their neighbourhood and would have to go the Environment Court.  

As a lawyer she had also seen first hand the impact the reduction in legal aid cases has had. Defendants were pleading guilty because they could not afford a lawyer and she believed that was wrong.

Working as a lawyer, she had realised the best way to change the system was to be part of it.

"I know how to strengthen our democracy and protect our rights. The only way to fix it, is to enter the system itself. That's why I'm standing for Parliament."

The Greens have chosen a more traditional candidate to contest Rimutaka, Stefan Grand-Meyer.

He lists water quality, climate change and affordable housing as the issues he would focus on if elected.

"I love cycling along and swimming in our river, but I'm concerned about the increasing frequency of toxic algae blooms and storm water run-off. We have to pick up our game, we can do better."

Originally from the South of France, Grand-Meyer moved to New Zealand in 2008 to pursue a career in translation. He lives in Stokes Valley.  

 - Hutt News

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