Human rights lawyer Susanne Ruthven hopes to turn Hutt South Green

Hutt South Green candidate Susanne Ruthven has a hard job getting heard in an electorate, where National and Labour are ...
NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Hutt South Green candidate Susanne Ruthven has a hard job getting heard in an electorate, where National and Labour are campaigning strongly.

Susanne Ruthven could be described as the forgotten candidate in Hutt South.

With Labour and National throwing everything but the kitchen sink at winning the seat vacated by Trevor Mallard, Ruthven has flown under the radar.

A quick look at her CV, however, leaves little doubt that as the election looms, she is likely to make an impact.

Susanne Ruthven works alongside Sir Geoffrey Palmer as a human rights lawyer.
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Susanne Ruthven works alongside Sir Geoffrey Palmer as a human rights lawyer.

Ruthven, who stood in Rimutaka in 2014, laughs when it is suggested that as a senior barrister with an international reputation in human rights, she is not your typical Green candidate.

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The mother of four works with Sir Geoffrey Palmer and believes that the only way to make meaningful change is to be an MP.

In Hutt South, she has found herself against National list MP Chris Bishop who has been campaigning since the last election.

Labour hopeful Ginny Andersen is also in overdrive and believes that concerns over housing give her an edge over Bishop.

The other door to Parliament, the party list, looks Ruthven's best bet.

The Greens do things differently to other parties. Party members and candidates vote on an "initial" list and there is then a second vote, where Ruthven hopes to improve dramatically from number 24.

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The 36 year-old feels the time is right for her to enter Parliament. New Zealand's reputation as a world leader in human rights is subtly being eroded and she wants to do something about it.

That could sound a bit high and mighty but what she is talking about is people's right to access services such as mental health treatment and housing.

As an example she pointed to Ashley Peacock, an autistic, severely mentally ill, intellectually disabled man who has been in a secure psychiatric unit in Porirua for about a decade.

His right to treatment and reasonable level of care should be guaranteed in human right legislation, she said.

In July, she is of to the World Justice Forum in the United Nations, which will look at rule of law, and how it applies to rights and freedoms.

So what does she say to the suggestion that she is not your typical Green candidate?

The Green Party was evolving and her candidacy showed  they were serious about being part of a government, she said.

The feedback she was getting was that Hutt South voters saw her as a realistic alternative to Labour and National.

As a standing MP, she said Bishop had a big advantage but she believed he can be beaten.

"Chris is a fantastic campaigner and will be hard to compete against but people in Hutt South are looking for someone to represent them. Just because he is a good campaigner does not mean he is not a good representative."

Realistically she conceded that the only way to become an MP was a high spot on the list.

With the Greens announcing their final list in a few weeks, she hoped party members were impressed enough with her CV to give her a winnable spot on the list.

Quick Glance

* Details: Susanne Ruthven, 36, Hutt South Green candidate.

* Children: A mother of four, she stood for Rimutaka in 2014 when she was pregnant.

* Education: St Oran's College and an LLB from Victoria University.

* Work: A barrister at Harbour Chambers, where she works alongside Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC and Hugh Rennie, QC.Formerly a solicitor at the Ministry of Fisheries, where she managed the Ministry's litigation files in public law, employment law and Maori customary law.

 

 

 - Stuff

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