Internet Party reaches 500 members
LAURA WALTERS AND TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Kim Dotcom's Internet Party has the 500 paying members it needs to become a registered political party.
Internet Party spokesman John Mitchell said that at 4am, within seven hours of the call for members going live, the party's member count hit the 500 mark.
"A tremendous result," Mitchell said.
Internet entrepreneur Dotcom officially launched the Internet Party at his Coatesville mansion in rural Auckland yesterday, with a call for members.
The first person to sign up as a member was party secretary Anna Sutherland, who used the virtual currency Bitcoin to pay for her membership.
The party's chief executive, Vikram Kumar, said it had passed the required threshold of 500 paying members within seven hours of opening registrations and had 600 when he last checked.
"Twenty per cent of them have also said they want to become volunteers to help the party out and that to me is a really powerful sign," Kumar said.
Only those eligible to vote - adult citizens and permanent residents - count towards the 500 threshold. The party must limit its submitted list to 550 to make verification easier.
Kumar said the party would check that members qualified before passing on the list to the commission.
"Our target is to do it by Monday. That is the speed we need to work at and that is how quickly we are working."
As part of the Internet Party's launch it released its key policies, which included pledging to cut internet connectivity costs by 50 per cent, creating a government-sponsored digital currency and stopping "mass surveillance" of New Zealanders by the Government.
The party also said it planned to get better internet connectivity and digital tools in schools.
Speaking at yesterday's launch, Kumar said it was still early days for the party and it would take about six weeks before the Electoral Commission had officially registered it.
There was not a firm timetable in terms of when candidates and policies would be announced, but he acknowledged there was not much time to get everything sorted with the September election looming.
Dotcom and Kumar said one sitting electorate MP would join the party but they would not say who the person was, what party they currently belonged to, or what electorate they represented.
Kumar said there were a further three sitting MPs who had expressed interest in joining the party.
From yesterday people were be able to sign up to the party using Apple devices, through an Android app or via the party's website.
Membership would cost each person $1.29 for three years.
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