Beyer takes Harawira to task over Dotcom
MICHAEL FOX AND MICHAEL FALLOW
Mana candidate Georgina Beyer will not be sanctioned by her party for critical comments about Kim Dotcom and for questioning leader Hone Harawira's control over the party.
Beyer last night claimed it was Internet Party founder Dotcom who was "pulling the strings" behind Internet-Mana, in spite of Harawira being the combined party's leader.
"When I start seeing the leader starting to forfeit some of his long-held beliefs for the sake of political expediency I begin to worry," Beyer told 3News.
She also questioned Dotcom's motives for getting into politics, saying "his reason for becoming involved... is one of retribution against people who he feels have slighted him".
She had also questioned the lack of resource being put into her campaign for the southern Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga, in spite of the largess of Dotcom.
With Harawira currently on leave, which the party says was organised weeks ago, his deputy Annette Sykes has fronted the issue.
Beyer's views were not reflected among the majority of the party membership and leadership, nor shared by Sykes, but she would not be sanctioned.
"Her opinions are her own, this is something that we have a different opinion on and just leave it at that; freedom of expression is really important in our movement because we are such strong activists."
The two parties are campaigning together to enter Parliament, with Mana gaining from Dotcom's financial clout and the Internet Party hoping to coat-tail into Parliament on the back of Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau seat. Their agreement expires six weeks after the election.
Sykes said there was no conflict between party leaders and she expected it to last beyond the six-week sunset clause, although it would be reviewed with a view to improving it.
The Waiariki candidate denied Mana was being forced to compromise on its values in order to accommodate the Internet Party, saying Mana's new position on cannabis was not forced by the Internet Party.
Their cannabis policy had been developed in-house over the past three years, and now sees them backing the use of medicinal cannabis and decriminalisation.
"We would much rather see compulsory addiction counselling or attendance at a drug rehabilitation programme... rather than a personal use conviction, jail and then nothing changes."
The Internet Party has declined to comment.
Beyer's outburst was the latest in a series of mishaps for the party, including Harawira arriving late and not speaking at the party's campaign launch. That was put down to his car accident several days earlier, although he was rumoured to be upset over the party's jobs policy.
Internet Party press secretary Pam Corkery also drew headlines following an outburst at journalists who wanted to question Dotcom over comments he made about hacking.
Beyer said today that seeing herself advertised as a "special guest" at an Internet Mana roadshow meeting hit home that her status on the election trail was not what it should be.
"In my cabaret days that might have been fine, or my television apparances on Dancing with the Stars," the former Labour MP said in Invercargill today. "But I'm the Mana movement candidate for Te Tai Tonga."
That had not changed in spite of her criticisms of Dotcom yesterday, she said.
"The leadership aren't particularly happy with my outburst of the past 24 hours, and of course I expected that."
But she was not prepared to keep trying to dance on the head of a pin each time someone asked her a direct question about Dotcom.
"Of course it's not been good for the party that I expressed a personal view ... others would rather I had not opened my big mouth."
Beyer believed the scope of the conflict had been exaggerated.
"I don't have an issue with the Internet Party, or the Internet Mana relationship, per se, but I was asked my view on Kim Dotcom and I gave it."
She was adamant Internet Mana could differentiate itself, in a meaningful way, from Dotcom's influence.
"He may be the funder and so-called visionary of the Internet Party but he's not a candidate in the election. He really should take a back seat from being out in front, and leave it to his candidates and our (Mana) candidates to get on with it ... without him being a huge distraction."
As she was not on the party list, Beyer's own political future depended on her electorate candidacy.
She would continue touring the South Island before returning to Wellington on September 10 to campaign in that part of the huge electorate.
She was on dialysis four times a day, but was pacing herself, she said.
"I was doing it in the back of the car from Waihola - it only takes about half an hour."
The dialysis affected how vigorous she could be, but compensating for that was her political experience.
"I'm a campaigner from way back," she said.
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