Internet Mana anger over Key effigy claims

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 16:03 11/08/2014
TVNZ/YouTube

Prime Minister John Key reacts to a video showing an effigy of him burning.

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The prime minister says he does not know whether Kim Dotcom was behind a video of youths burning an effigy of him, as a Facebook group claims responsibility for the stunt.

The Internet Mana Party sought legal advice today over John Key's comments made on TVNZ's Breakfast show this morning.

Key was shown a video of a group of seemingly intoxicated youths dousing a huge wooden model of him with flammable liquid and setting it alight.

One onlooker commented "[Key] is about to get f***ing fried as."

"At least John Key's giving us one thing, and that's warmth. Warmth for the next... 10 minutes," another man commented.

The group repeatedly chanted "F*** John Key" and cheered as the effigy burnt.

After watching the video, Key immediately associated it with German entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, the founder of the Internet Party. 

A week ago, another video was posted on the Internet Mana party Youtube account of Dotcom rallying a crowd of young people, who started chanting "F*** John Key" at an Internet Mana party event.

The description posted with that video, which also featured Internet Mana branding, reads: "The spontaneous chanting from the crowd said it all. They too want to Change the Government."

This afternoon Key said the first he saw of the effigy burning video was on Breakfast this morning.

"They were chanting the same thing as the other one but look, I don't really know," Key said when asked by reporters if he thought Dotcom was behind it.

A Facebook group named National Party Billboard Makeovers has posted online saying Key was distracting the public from the real issues by claiming Dotcom was behind the effigy burning video.

"[T]hose of you who were here on Saturday night know how this really unfolded," the post on Facebook read.

The administrators of the group page were a "diverse bunch of people" with no affiliation to any political party, it said.

Key said his comments made on Breakfast were "really around the [video] that Internet Mana put up on their site that they actively encouraged people to go and watch.

"I think New Zealanders will judge all of those things themselves, they'll decide whether they think it is a positive step in New Zealand politics or not," he said.

Key said on Breakfast that New Zealanders would make their own decision on whether they wanted someone in the political system that did "this sort of stuff".

The young people in the Internet Mana "Party Party" (F*** John Key) video were being used as pawns in what Kim Dotcom was doing, Key said.

"They're the same students if I went to Canterbury University the next day would be wanting to take selfies."

Key also incorrectly said Internet Mana had put together and promoted both videos under their banner.

Internet Mana spokeswoman Pam Corkery said she was "gobsmacked" at Key's comments on Breakfast this morning.

The party had not posted the video online, and they were not associated with the group that burnt the effigy, she said.

They had sought lawyers' advice on getting an apology from TVNZ, as Corkery said the interviewer breached his duty of care when he did not challenge Key when he inferred Dotcom was involved.

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"We just want this wrong righted on TV1 tomorrow or the next day."

Corkery said she did not know what action they would take if an apology was not forthcoming, but they were "very annoyed".

The party would likely not pursue action against Key for the comments, as it would be a waste of taxpayers' money, she said.

The video of the effigy burning showed "young ones behaving as they do - they're not happy," she said.

It was not the first time an effigy of a politician had been burnt in New Zealand.

Under the National government in the early 1990s, protesters angered by government cuts to social welfare took to burning effigies of Social Welfare Minister Jenny Shipley and Finance Minister Ruth Richardson.

Key and Harre will both be at the Kumeu Baptist Church in Auckland tonight as locals get a chance to meet candidates in the Helensville and Te Tai Tokerau electorates.

- Stuff

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