Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Bradford walks out of Mana AGM

Kim Dotcom addresses the Mana Party meeting. Photo / Daily Post
Kim Dotcom addresses the Mana Party meeting. Photo / Daily Post

Sue Bradford and other leading Mana Party figures have walked out of the party's AGM over its decision to continue negotiations towards an alliance with Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.

After discussions which went into the night at Mataikotare Marae near Rotorua yesterday, Mana's branches "unanimously'' agreed to move forward with the negotiations.

The party has given its leaders a month to negotiate, before they put any proposed alliance out to the party's local branches for consultation.

However, Mana President Annette Sykes this morning said : "Our movement, I was concerned that it may be fragile and some of our membership - I don't know whether some have chosen not to come back today.''

"There's quite a number. We're not talking hundreds, but we're talking people who I think are leaders young and old and they are principled people who I have respect for. They've gone back to reflect with their branches.''

Ms Bradford this morning confirmed she was among those who had walked out.

"We left us last night so she perhaps includes us among those people because there was deep debate, deep dissension and resistance to the idea of going into an alliance with the Internet Party.''

"Some of us, both Maori and Pakeha, are really disturbed by the idea of going into an alliance with a neo-liberal billionaire.''

Meanwhile, Ms Sykes said there was "a very clear recognition that there are certain gaps that need to be fleshed out before any final decision was made''.

She said the vote to continue discussions "was a unanimous outcome the way we vote regionally but within those regions there is dissent and we have to respect that dissent so there are some limits on the next steps and the way they negotiate forward''.

Mr Dotcom put his case for an alliance to about 200 Mana members gathered for their annual meeting yesterday.

The internet tycoon and his entourage arrived at the Mana annual meeting in large Porsche and Mercedes SUVs but he pulled out all the stops to convince Mana of his working-class credentials and his commitment to ``social fairness''.

However, Ms Bradford said she was suspicious of his use of that term which believed was carefully chosen and was not exactly the same as Mana's commitment to social justice.

Businessman Gareth Morgan is to address the Mana meeting this morning.

Mana Leader Hone Harawira said Dr Morgan had been ''as keen to meet with us as Kim Dotcom has been''.

"It's because Gareth Morgan has publicly stated on numerous occasions that he made tens of millions of dollars off the TradeMe sale, and he asked the question, "I didn't earn that why am I not paying tax on that''.

"He is a believer in taxing the rich, we don't agree on the detail just like we don't agree on the detail with Kim Dotcom, he's also a believer in a universal basic income and he wanted to talk to us because we are the only party that he's seen that believes in that.''

Mana Leader Hone Harawira said there was always going to be differences of opinion over a proposal like the Internet Party alliance.

"Will there be resignations, quite possibly. There haven't been today.''

He said he had the greatest respect for Ms Bradford, "the fact she disagrees where we're going with this does not change that''.

"Should she decide to leave Mana I will still respect her ability and the strengths she brings as a campaigner for the poor and dispossessed but we can't determine Mana's future on the feelings of one activist or another.

He was happy that Mana had seen "hundreds and hundreds'' of new members sign up since the party had begun talks with the Internet Party.

"You win some you lose some."

- NZ Herald

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