Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Dotcom show wears thin for Kiwis

Poll results evenly split over whether Government should step in to save entrepreneur from extradition.

Kim Dotcom.
Kim Dotcom.

New Zealanders are split over whether the Government should allow Kim Dotcom to stay in New Zealand even if he loses his extradition court case later this year, a Herald-DigiPoll survey has found.

But media commentator Brian Edwards believes sympathy for the German internet entrepreneur is fading.

Asked whether Justice Minister Judith Collins should use her discretionary powers in the Extradition Act to allow him to stay in New Zealand if he lost his extradition hearing, almost 42 per cent of those surveyed said "yes" and just over 47 per cent said "no".

Dr Edwards said Mr Dotcom started off as "a larger-than-life funny character and people loved him and when the raid happened, they thought, 'This is not fair, this is not the way we do things.'

"I have a feeling that after that we started to see so much of him doing so many things and also perceiving him as someone who is enormously wealthy and all the rest that people started to look at his past a little bit more.

I think if he'd had a poll three or four months ago it wouldn't have been evenly divided. I think people would have said what a great character, leave him alone, we need people like this. I think now people are a little bit suspicious. They think this guy has worked too hard on getting us on side."

The FBI's bid to have Mr Dotcom extradited to the US to face internet piracy and racketeering charges is due to be heard in the District Court in July. He suffered a setback on Friday as the Supreme Court ruled his lawyers were not entitled to see all of the FBI's evidence against him ahead of that trial.

Asked whether he thought Mr Dotcom would be extradited, Prime Minister John Key said: "I don't know, that's ultimately a matter for the District Court when they look at the application."

The District Court will only rule on whether Mr Dotcom can be legally extradited. The decision rests with Ms Collins, who declined to comment. Neither Mr Dotcom nor his lawyer Paul Davison, QC, would comment either.

Labour justice spokesman Andrew Little said at issue was whether the allegations against Mr Dotcom were "genuinely criminal conduct, or is it a civil matter" that ought to be left to the US and Kim Dotcom.

Bradford: Any Mana-Dotcom deal would be bad

Any electoral deal between Kim Dotcom and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira may find resistance from activists within Mana.

Mana member and former MP Sue Bradford is worried at the prospect of any deal with Mr Dotcom's internet Party, which has yet to be launched.

"I would be extremely concerned if Mana was to go into any arrangement with Kim Dotcom because what I think he stands for is the anti-thesis of what Mana is about to me," she told the Herald last night.

Mr Dotcom confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that he had held talks with Mr Harawira in late February about an alliance which could benefit both parties if Mr Harawira retained his seat of Te Tai Tokerau.

If they formed an alliance, the internet Party could get list MPs into Parliament without having to reach the 5 per cent threshold.

Mana could have the benefit of a bigger campaign budget and more MPs.

Sue Bradford, a former Green MP, left Parliament in 2009 and joined Mana when it was formed in 2011.

She said Mana stood for tino rangatiratanga [self determination] and for all New Zealander on low or no incomes.

"It's a left rangatiratanga party which had invited the tau iwi [Pakeha] left even though it is Maori-led and Maori-focused and in my political history it is the first time anything like that has happened and so I joined and stood for it in 2011.

She was Mana's candidate in Waitakere which was won by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett stood.

"In any way joining forces with a billionaire who is very likely a fraudster and under various legal challenges would really go against the kaupapa that I believe in."

She said there had also been concerns about the poor payment or no payment of staff and poor payment or low payment of creditors.

"All this does not really one to think he is a person of credibility that a political party with mana in Aotearoa would want to be associated with."

The United States is trying to have Mr Dotcom extradited to face criminal charges of copyright infringement, money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud.

Mr Dotcom claimed in the Herald on Sunday he had held talks with MPs from other parties who had won electorate seats and were likely to win them again.

That led to a speculation on social media and a flurry of denial from various MPs.

Labour's Clare Curran, who has visited the internet mogul's Coatesville mansion, was one of the first to reject any intention of teaming up with him.

There had been earlier speculation that she would be challenged for selection but she was confirmed yesterday as Labour's candidate again in Dunedin South.

Independent MP Brendan Horan has also rejected any deal with Mr Dotcom.

Labour's Shane Jones said he visited the mansion late last year. But the discussion was limited to rap-music - and he had told leader David Cunliffe about the visit.

The focus went on Te Atatu-based National list MP Tau Henare who has been attending an Inter Parliamentary Union meeting in Geneva.

He wished Mr Dotcom's twin two-year-olds "happy birthdays" in a tweet over the weekend and tweeted later that he would announce his future plans after a week off.

The Herald understands he is planning to announce his retirement from politics altogether and that National list MP Alfred Ngaro will contest Labour-held Te Atatu.

- NZ Herald

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