Kiwis ditch Banks, divided over Dotcom

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 12:00 11/10/2012
John Banks
JOHN BANKS: Almost three quarters of New Zealanders viewed him''unfavourably", the poll found.
KIM DOTCOM
DIVIDED: Thirty eight per cent of the those polled have favourable opinions of Kim Dotcom, compared to 36 per cent who see him unfavourably.

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The public has taken a ''dim view'' of ACT leader John Banks but are divided on Kim Dotcom, a new poll shows.

Almost three quarters of New Zealanders view Banks ''unfavourably,'' 14 per cent see him favourably, 13 per cent are unsure - and two per cent have never heard of him.

The internet millionaire is more popular - 38 per cent of the those polled by UMR Research have favourable opinions, compared to 36 per cent who see him unfavourably.

The pair were publicly linked when Dotcom revealed he had given a $50,000 donation to Banks' 2010 campaign to be Auckland mayor, which was later registered anonymous. Police investigated but did not press charges.

Banks' reputation also took a hammering during last year's election campaign when a cameraman recorded his 'private' conversation with Prime Minister John Key during a ''cup of tea'' publicity stunt. Again police were called in but the newsman wasn't charged.

UMR said only two party leaders have tracked worse than Banks since 1996: NZ First leader Winston Peters, in 1997,  and Tau Henare, who fronted Mauri Pacific, in 1999. Both were accused of ''cynically manipulating the electoral system.''

UMR Research director Gavin White said the number show New Zealanders ''take a dim view of politicians who they see as cynically manipulating the electoral system for their own ends. The tea-tape fiasco and controversy about so-called anonymous donations to the 2010 mayoral campaign have clearly painted John Banks in this light.''

Dotcom is currently fighting extradition to the US on internet piracy charges. But an over-the-top joint police and FBI raid and a series of blunders - including illegal search warrants and unlawful spying on the German millionaire - have gained him some public sympathy.

The poll was conducted between September 27 to October 2, It has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, Dotcom has claimed GCSB were enlisted to spy on him to give US authorities access to his communications, and he says several cameras were secretly installed around his home.

"The interesting part is that the GCSB is one of the five partners in the Echelon project, the global spying project,"  he told website TorrentFreak. "They are prying on every type of communication they can get their hands on, from wireless, to internet, to satellite, to telephone."

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The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States belongs to the Echelon network, which allows partners real-time access to intelligence.

He said it is ''nonsense'' the spying took place so police could locate him ahead of the January 20 raid.

"The GCSB was utilised to surveil all my communication in order to give the US Government full access to all my communication, without the requirement of a warrant, and without the ability for me to get access to transcripts or discovery," he told TorrentFreak.

"The US has used this GCSB surveillance to get real-time access to my phone calls, internet traffic and everything, and I can't do anything about it. They refuse to cooperate with the court and say it's all national security," he added.

- Stuff

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