Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Dotcom's party hits 1000 member mark

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 claims to have signed up more than a thousand voters since launching its membership drive yesterday and aims to submit its registration application to the Electoral Commission on Monday.

"Having gone 'live' at midday on Thursday, the target of 500 people signed up was achieved at 7pm on the day and has continued to climb to more than 800 today," the party said this afternoon.

Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar said membership details were now being checked before submission to the Electoral Commission.

"We're working hard to have this done by Monday."

The commission will then verify those members before the party is officially registered, a process expected to take about six week.

Mr Kumar said there had also been "a huge response" from people who wanted to work for the party as volunteers.

"We've also had strong interest from people wanting to join the party as candidates."

The party was launched yesterday at Dotcom's Coatesville mansion in rural Auckland and has released some high level policy. Apart from the previously indicated emphasis on cheaper faster internet, the party also wants to see the introduction of a government sponsored digital currency.

Party chief executive Vikram Kumar said the party wanted to see a fundamental change in New Zealand's intelligence and surveillance regime, including a withdrawal from the US led "five eyes" intelligence sharing network.

Because he is not a New Zealand citizen, Mr Dotcom cannot stand as a candidate in his own party. He is also facing a bid to extradite him by US authorities to face copyright, money laundering and racketeering charges.

'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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