Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Dotcom on track to 500 members

Online and smartphone registration pulls in numbers as mogul blames National for 'smear campaign'

Kim Dotcom says at least one sitting MP has signed up as a member of his new party, but he won't say who. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kim Dotcom says at least one sitting MP has signed up as a member of his new party, but he won't say who. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Kim Dotcom's Internet Party last night looked set to gain the 500 members necessary for registration in record time.

The party's punt on ground-breaking online and smartphone registration was launched yesterday by Mr Dotcom at his Coatesville, Auckland mansion.

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By early evening, party spokesman John Mitchell said almost 400 members had signed up in the space of six hours and the party was on track to hit 500 by the end of the night.

"It's certainly trending that way," he said.

He emphasised those members still have to be confirmed by the Electoral Commission before the party is registered.

Meanwhile, a potential tie-up between Mr Dotcom's Internet Party and Hone Harawira's Mana Movement remains a possibility after he ruled out the unlikely prospect he could work with National.

He told the Herald the "disgusting smear campaign" of claims he is a Nazi sympathiser "obviously originates out of the National Party leadership camp".

That meant he had decided he could not work with National, he said.

That stance would "absolutely" help progress his party's talks with Mana.

Mr Harawira, who this week set a bottom line that any party Mana worked with had to be committed to ousting John Key's National Government, welcomed Mr Dotcom's comment.

"Kim Dotcom has come on board with that and recognised that it's an important bottom line for us if he wants to progress the relationship but it's not the only thing.

"We need to know there are similarities in policies, we'd want to know who his candidates are going to be - whether they're standing in seats or just on the list."

"If after some time those conditions come to a point where there could be further talks then those talks may happen."

Despite Mana founding member Sue Bradford this week saying she opposed such a tie-up, Mr Harawira said: "I don't get the sense at all that the Mana membership is violently opposed to a relationship with Kim Dotcom."

Mana's membership were, however, "a very challenging bunch and they will demand to know more".

The matter would be discussed at Mana's April 12 annual meeting in Rotorua.

Asked about the current electorate MP he claims has committed to joining the Internet Party, Mr Dotcom said he didn't want to comment.

"I have a confidentiality agreement and I don't want to give any hints whatsoever, but it isn't Hone."

Mr Dotcom also addressed issues around hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to former staff and contractors by the company which runs his large, luxurious home.

He said he had now paid all of those bills.

'I'm not always politically correct'

His ownership of a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf, a photo of him wearing an SS helmet, and claims he keeps a Nazi flag in his basement have not damaged him or his Internet Party, Kim Dotcom says.

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He was forced to address those issues as he launched the party's drive for 500 members at his Coatesville mansion yesterday.

He repeatedly disputed claims that owning a rare signed copy of Hitler's book marks him as a Nazi sympathiser and says he does not own a Nazi flag as claimed by Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater.

Commenting on a picture of him wearing an SS helmet, he said: 'I'm a young guy. I'm not always politically correct, this is a helmet that somebody brought to the Gumball Rally.

"A British guy, he asked me to put it on, he took a picture.

"It was a five-minute affair, this is not my helmet, I'm not a Nazi and this is all I want to say about this."

He didn't think the "disgusting smear campaign" had damaged him or his party.

"If you look at the Twitter feed around this story, and the response from the public, they are 95 per cent disgusted about this kind of campaign and New Zealanders are way too smart to buy into this."

Q&A: The Internet Party

Q: What is it?

Initiated by Kim Dotcom late last year, the party has a focus on internet freedom and aims to contest this year's election.

Q: Why was it founded?

"Because of the injustice I experienced myself with the destruction of my business, with [the] raid, with the illegal spying against me and of course the Snowden revelations about the global NSA spying," Mr Dotcom says.

Q: Who are the key players?

Chief executive: Vikram Kumar, the former Internet NZ chief executive

Lawyer: Electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler

Spokesman: Former Terry Serepisos offsider John Mitchell

Q: Who are the candidates?

Not being a New Zealand citizen, Mr Dotcom cannot run for Parliament himself but has been coy on who will stand.

He has refused to reveal the identity of the sitting electorate MP he claims has committed to the party. Candidates will be selected when the party is registered in about six weeks' time.

They will be "experts in important areas of social policy and reducing social inequalities".

The policies

The Internet Party yesterday released its 10-point policy agenda.

Key points include:

• Innovation and jobs

• Cheaper, unlimited, high-speed internet for everyone.

The party says it will "put an end to the bandwidth monopoly, and stop the overpricing and limitations that are harming New Zealand's digital future".

• It promises to halve internet prices, make it available to all New Zealanders including rural areas, and to build a second submarine cable.

• Digital currency

The party wants to introduce a "government-sponsored digital currency that is safe, secure and encrypted" providing for instant international transactions at minimal cost.

• Modern schools

With its "vast knowledge and experience with technology", the party is committed to improving schools and to "fix the unacceptable Novopay debacle as a priority".

• Spying and net freedom

The party promises to "fight against mass surveillance, removing its legal basis in New Zealand".

Rather than simply "tinkering" with the GCSB Bill, the party would review New Zealand's participation in the US-led Five Eyes intelligence network, party chief executive Vikram Kumar said.

- NZ Herald

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