Dotcom pumps $3m into party

Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014
Internet-Mana party
Fairfax NZ

YOU'RE OUR ONLY HOPE: Mana leader Hone Harawira, Internet Party leader Laila Harre, party backer Kim Dotcom and Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar at the official launch of the Internet Party at The Langham Hotel in central Auckland.

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Kim Dotcom has shaken up the election with a claim his new Internet Party will have a $3 million war chest.

That pledge was revealed yesterday as the party confirmed its new leader was former Alliance leader Laila Harre.

Electoral records show Dotcom has already donated $250,000 to the Internet Party, which did a deal this week with Mana that could see it ride leader Hone Harawira's coat-tails into Parliament.

The Internet Party founder told 3 News he was putting his money where his mouth was and putting up $3m for the election campaign.

That would give the new Internet-Mana alliance a war chest to rival its Right-wing opponents. National spent $2.7m in 2011 and was the biggest spender among the parties, followed by the Colin Craig-led Conservative Party.

Limits on how much political parties can spend on their campaigns are based on a formula that includes the number of candidates they stand. The Internet Party would need candidates in every electorate to be able to spend even close to $3m.

Dotcom's financial backing is a boost to Mana's hopes of taking out more of the Maori seats - and could cause an upset in the crucial Waiariki seat where Te Ururoa Flavell is under pressure to hold on or risk the Maori Party being turfed out of Parliament. That could deny National an ally and its ability to form a government.

Harre said she hoped the Internet-Mana alliance would bring the spark back to New Zealand Left-wing politics.

She made no apologies for strategically using MMP to form an alliance with Mana to strengthen its election chances.

"It's time for the people to take MMP back for ourselves."

The Internet-Mana agreement includes a clause allowing Mana to reassess the relationship between the two parties six weeks after the September 20 election.

Harre said the parties would continue their alliance after the election despite the clause, although it was not clear what form it would take. The Internet Party had only ruled out working with a National-led government.

Stepping into leadership was a "natural progression" from her "long and rich apprenticeship".

She was ready to pass on her knowledge to Internet candidates and learn from them about the potential of the internet age.

The party was at the "cutting edge" of political reform, she said.

Dotcom said Harre was like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars and would mentor and lead the young Internet candidates.

Harre's age - 48 - was not a deterrent, he said, and she was a fast learner when it came to technology and youth issues. Harre's leadership role would give him the chance to step back from the day-to-day running of the party.

Harawira said Harre had taken the leadership role because she believed in it.

Harre held several portfolios during her time in the Cabinet, including women's affairs, youth affairs, statistics and associate minister of labour and commerce.

She and her husband, Barry Gribben, have interests in an organic vineyard on Waiheke Island, an Italian restaurant in Auckland and several properties. 

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