Mana waits to see Internet Party ideas

17:46, Mar 23 2014

The Mana Party is taking a rain check on linking up with Kim Dotcom's Internet Party until it sees its candidates, its policy planks and gets an assurance it is committed to a change of government.

The Megaupload founder is expected to launch his party on Thursday, and will need to secure 500 members to register it with the Electoral Commission.

He has floated the idea of a deal with the Hone Harawira-led Mana Party to help both of them secure more MPs after the September 20 election, but Mana remains wary.

Dotcom has reportedly said one sitting MP is committed to joining the party, and he is talking to three other potential waka-jumpers, but he would not name the individual MP until June.

The aim of a link would be to create an umbrella group, similar to the Alliance in the 1990s, that could use a win by Mr Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau to ensure it qualified for more seats in the House if it fell short of the 5 per cent party vote threshold - the so-called "coat-tailing" provision.

Former Alliance activist Gerard Hehir, now Mana's party secretary, said it was early days and there was no paper or proposal on the table. The two sides had held only one meeting.


He said it would be unfair to describe him as enthusiastic about a deal. The Internet Party was yet to be formed, had not announced its policy platform and had not yet named candidates. More would be known on Thursday, but there was little time before the election.

The Mana executive had been briefed last week. "We are looking at policy, philosophy and attitude to government. If they're not aligned, there's no point in going on."

Dotcom's comment that he could possibly work with National could be a stumbling block. "We want a change [of government]."

However, Mana and the Internet Party are not seen as an easy fit. As a player close to Mana's leadership said yesterday, it would be "odd for a party based on helping Maori and the low-paid to link up with a rich German entrepreneur".

Of crucial importance will be the attitude of Mana's No 2, Annette Sykes, and its co-president and third-ranked candidate, John Minto, who is keen to broaden the party's support among urban voters of all ethnicities.

Mr Minto referred questions to Mr Hehir. Mr Harawira answered his phone briefly to say he was driving and to "send a text". A text was sent but he did not respond.

On Wednesday he issued a statement confirming he had met Dotcom at a friend's house on Auckland's North Shore. Discussions included their mutual dislike of "the way John Key has allowed NZ's intelligence services to be used as pawns by American big business against a New Zealand resident", "how much we both dislike John Key's cavalier dismissal of the rights of ordinary New Zealanders" and how bleak the future was if the prime minister "keeps floggin' off our key assets".

The two had discussed what Mana and Dotcom would like to see happen in this country.

"We clearly have common interests, but for the record, I didn't ask him to fund Mana, and he didn't offer to either.

"I didn't ask him to join Mana, and he didn't ask me to join his party."

Dotcom's yet-to-be-launched party has recorded little or no support in recent polls and he has promised to fold it and endorse an alternative if he falls short of the threshold in the election runup.

He does not have New Zealand citizenship, so cannot stand for Parliament.

The Dominion Post