Could Kim Dotcom recover some credit in this country? A university lecturer in cultural studies thinks so. Dr Rosemary Overall says in our Sunday Insight feature, "New Zealanders love a good redemption story." Dotcom's election night concession went down well, she reckons.
So it did. It was apparent on television that the election result had been an epiphany for him. He realised at last that he had badly overplayed his hand. New Zealanders like a cheerful character and they admire one who stands up to authority, they don't mind at all that he is a wealthy immigrant.
But they did not agree with him that they should dump John Key, they were not impressed with his Internet-Mana contrivance and the last straw was being told how to vote by dissident whistleblowers in Dotcom's "Moment of Truth".
Since then, hardly a word has been heard from him. He is still resisting extradition to the United States to face internet piracy charges. His original lawyers have quit and the police want to put him back in custody for a bail breach long ago. He is under stricter bail conditions, rendering him a virtual prisoner in his Coatesville mansion where he lives alone now that his marriage has failed and his five children live with their mother nearby.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
He is not a pitiable figure and would not want to be. He is still wealthy, clever and entrepreneurial. That is why he was admitted to this country. His treasure trove is the internet, a new frontier of opportunity where law is still as tenuous and hard to enforce as it was in the territorial frontiers of the past. Dotcom's case may be important in the application of copyright to the web.
The sooner he goes and faces those charges, the better for everyone including, surely, him. It cannot be pleasant living in limbo even if it is a sprawling house with rooms for every indulgence and 24ha of gardens outside.
It is time, perhaps, for the Government to take a closer interest in his fate. It did, after all, grant him residency for a reason and few besides Dotcom share his theory that it was to deliver him to the FBI.
If the Government was to treat his case as a useful test of internet property rights, and show an interest in his commercial survival, Dotcom might not pursue peripheral issues arising from the police's heavy-handed raid of 2012 and unlawful surveillance of him by the GCSB.
Dotcom is here because his skills and investments were once considered valuable for this country. They could yet be. He is wiser now about the country he has come to. We should let him know he can still get a fair go.