Internet Mana roadshow hits Wellington

By Derek Cheng

Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom. File photo / Stephen Parker
Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom. File photo / Stephen Parker

Promises of free tertiary education, decriminalisation of cannabis, and billionaire Kim Dotcom singing the virtues of taxing the rich pleased a packed house as the Internet-Mana roadshow hit Wellington last night.

Mr Dotcom also compared internet and cellphone coverage in New Zealand to that of Zimbabwe, in pitching the importance of embracing widespread, high-speed internet and how that could transform the economy.

"Fifty per cent of the time we've been on the road, I've had no cellphone coverage ... this is New Zealand, not Zimbabwe."

A room of about 300 people turned up to Mac's Brewery to listen to party representatives, and to lob questions at them.

When questioned how the party would pay for free tertiary education, Mr Dotcom said they would "tax the rich and the corporates", and bring in a capital gains tax.

"The only ones who are going to be burdened by it are the super rich."

He was also asked how he could donate $50,000 to social conservative John Banks, and also share the stage with Mana candidate Georgina Beyer, the world's first openly transsexual MP.

Mr Dotcom addressed only the first part, saying he was "flirted" into the donation because Mr Banks told him the economy needed to embrace internet-based enterprises - which he said turned out to be "lip service".

Mana candidate Annette Sykes said the party supported legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes, and making cannabis a health issue instead of a criminal one.

"If you have an addiction, you're channeled through a process into the health system, rather than to jail."

Ms Sykes said she was particularly skeptical of partnering with Mr Dotcom, but warmed to him after he ran the gauntlet of the Mana AGM and aptly discussed Mana's intention to tax the rich.

She took a strong swing at "Maori corporates" who benefited from "slavery" on fishing vessels, which was outlawed in Parliament last week. "That is absolutely evil."

Internet Party leader Laila Harre said they were on track to make the 5 per cent threshold to enter parliament, but if that failed, Hone Harawira would still win Te Tai Tokerau and Ms Sykes would win Waiariki.

"I have no shame at all about going into Parliament on his coat-tails and on her apron strings," Ms Harre said.

She made a plea for voters to make their voice count.

"The outcome of this election won't depend on the people who vote National. The outcome of this election will depend on the people who don't."

Students Estelle Geach, Georgie Carter and TJ Stevens all said that Internet-Mana had won their vote because of the promise of free tertiary education.

But Victoria University student Duncan Hope was unsettled by the odd pairing of Mr Dotcom and Hone Harawira.

"I see this political alliance as a marriage of convenience, which I don't frankly understand. You have the Mana Party, which is a socialist party, being bankrolled by a neo-liberal billionaire."

He said he would vote for Labour, despite his lack of confidence in leader David Cunliffe.

- NZ Herald

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