John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Classic signs of a trap in the making


Is a noose slowly being tightened around the Prime Minister's neck?

Kim Dotcom may have wasted the first 14 of his allotted 15 minutes in front of Parliament's intelligence and security committee reading out a worthy but turgid statement outlining the failings of legislation clarifying the functions of the Government Communications Security Bureau - the agency that illegally spied on the Megaupload founder. But then came the sting.

As a modern-day soothsayer warning of the pending "Dark Ages of Spying", he was suitably attired in his trademark black, barring a thin red line running along his trainers. His only concession to the committee was to remove his baseball cap - black, of course.

His treatise, however, failed to excite Winston Peters, who was fighting a losing battle with his drooping eyelids. But Peters knew what was coming after John Key, who is chairing the hearings on the bill, generously agreed to a request from the Greens' Russel Norman for an extension of time for Dotcom.

On Tuesday, Peters had posed a series of questions asking Key whether he had been telling the truth about what he knew and when about the January 2012 police raid on the Dotcom mansion at Coatesville. Key replied with an unequivocal "yes".

With Dotcom due to turn up the next day, Key ought to have smelled an extremely large rodent.

By this stage Peters was wide awake with his devilish smile flashing across his face as Labour's David Shearer asked Dotcom if he thought Key was aware of him and his activities long before the Prime Minister has consistently said he knew. "He knew about me before the raid ... You know I know," Dotcom replied, staring at Key. Peters' smile just kept on broadening.

Outside the hearing, Dotcom accused Key of lying to all New Zealanders when he had said he did not know about him. Proof of that would be presented at Dotcom's extradition hearing. If it stands up, Key's resignation might well be in order. It is as simple as that.

Then Dotcom was off. He had arrived at Parliament about an hour earlier, having flown from Auckland to Wellington by helicopter. So what had the helicopter flight been like? "Very bumpy," was the curt response.

He might have used the same description for his 22-minute appearance in front of the committee.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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