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Herald on Sunday editorial: Openness, not shock and awe

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Kim Dotcom has confirmed he will spend up to $2m in an attempt to get into Parliament. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Kim Dotcom has confirmed he will spend up to $2m in an attempt to get into Parliament. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Hell hath no fury like a multi-millionaire internet mogul scorned.

When the Government authorised an armed police raid on Kim Dotcom's $20 million Coatesville mansion, it lit a small hell-fire. When Prime Minister John Key derided the giant Dotcom as a political "minnow", grouping him with Bill and Ben and the McGillicuddy Serious Party, that small fire exploded into an inferno.

In interviews with the Herald on Sunday this week, Dotcom and his lieutenants have confirmed they plan to spend up to $2 million in an attempt to get into Parliament with enough MPs to hold the balance of power. More worrying for Key, they are negotiating a deal with Hone Harawira and claim to be talking to four sitting electorate MPs about joining up with the Internet Party, in the most aggressive poaching exercise in this country's contemporary political history.

So should Key be scared? The answer must be a resounding, emphatic, "maybe".

Dotcom is dangerous. He could threaten Key. But his private life could also explode in the face of potential allies like Labour, the Greens and Mana.

He is fighting extradition to the United States to face copyright charges, and suffered a setback in that fight on Friday when the Supreme Court ruled he would not have access to details of the American prosecution case against him.

He has also gone to court this week to prevent disclosures by his disgruntled former head of security, Wayne Tempero, apparently angry at having his contract and pay cut. Tempero is threatening to lift the lid on Dotcom's relationship with staff, debts, and allegedly embarrassing trivia such as what he keeps in his basement. Dotcom says he cannot (or will not) comment on the threatened Tempero disclosures, beyond dismissing them as a "smear campaign" and promising his creditors will be paid in full this week.

Labour leader David Cunliffe is trying to put together a coalition that will elevate him to Prime Minister - he does not want high-risk allies, if he can avoid them.

On the flip side, the Mana Party and the Internet Party are a marriage made in heaven: the former should win one, perhaps two electorates; the latter has money and the potential to mobilise disaffected young voters through the social networks to which they pay more attention than any town hall meetings and TV debates.

If it is true that Dotcom has persuaded one or more sitting National or Labour electorate MPs to join him in a polygamous marriage, then the Internet Party starts to look like a real threat to the Government.

The question is, who are these MPs, and how realistic is Dotcom's belief he can keep their identities secret for three months?

The Internet Party hopes to launch its website and membership apps on Thursday, all going to plan. It hopes to have the requisite 500 members within a day, and to immediately register with the Electoral Commission.

Any sitting electorate MP who plans to jump across to the Internet Party must immediately and publicly disclose that intention. It is not sustainable or honourable to maintain a pretence, to Parliament and constituents, until the Internet Party names its candidates in June.

Dotcom has big plans. He has fire in his belly. But he also needs a cool head.

To win, he must gently gain voters' trust. His fireworks displays may impress the public on New Year's Eve, but shock and awe tactics are not the answer on election day.

- Herald on Sunday

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