Journo linked to Internet Party quits

INTERNET PARTY: Mega founder Kim Dotcom unveiled his own political party last night.
Fairfax NZ

INTERNET PARTY: Mega founder Kim Dotcom unveiled his own political party last night.

Journalist Alastair Thompson has resigned from internet-based news service Scoop this afternoon in the wake of claims he was to be Internet Party general-secretary and had registered a domain name.

Scoop's controlling shareholder, Selwyn Pellett, confirmed he had not previously been aware of the extent of Thompson's involvement with the party.

After the blog became public, Thompson tendered his resignation.

Pellett said that while he understood Thompson's passion for internet freedom, there was a clear conflict of interest with his journalism.

Thompson and political activist Martyn Bradbury were linked to Kim Dotcom's new political party by Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater today.

Slater wrote that former Mana Party strategist and Left-wing blogger Bradbury had been paid to write a strategy for the party.

On his Whaleoil blog, Slater also said Thompson would be the party's secretary and had registered an internet domain for the party.

Slater published what he said was Bradbury's 13-page written strategy, saying he was paid $8000 for the advice.

Bradbury writes for the Daily Blog website, and in recent days has penned articles in support of Dotcom's venture, without revealing any link to the Internet Party.

In the "White Paper", Bradbury says he (Bradbury) should stand in the Auckland Central electorate, and asks for $15,000 plus and an office. He also asks for a technology upgrade to the tune of $5000.

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He advises the the Internet Party to also focus on one other seat, the newly created Auckland Upper Harbour electorate, and use social media to campaign for the party vote. He believes it can return three MPs to Parliament in this year's election.

Bradbury also recommended Dotcom roll out free wi-fi to the new electorate from February to August.

"Treating" would be a breach of electoral law, but Bradbury suggests doing it outside the election campaign period to get around the rules.

However, in his calculations he is assuming the election would be in late November. Prime Minister John Key is yet to announce when the country is going to the polls.

Just over an hour after the Whaleoil blog was published, Bradbury penned his own rebuttal. He confirmed he wrote the paper, saying it was an "early draft" of a proposal.

"The idea of me as a candidate was more to kick around ideas," he wrote.

"I am a political consultant, this is what I do, this was a proposal I was asked to submit.

"The moment I start working for the Internet Party if I am offered a role I will be shouting it from the rooftops as I think the ideas of an Internet Party focused on civil rights in the online 21st century and the economic prosperity that could generate for NZ is the future and anything that moves us away from a dairy-dependent, drill-and-mine economy is a good thing.

"But all it was, was a proposal. If that changes, I will let you all know."

Thompson was an associate member of the press gallery, but was not permanently based at Parliament.

Press gallery rules state that members "must not be involved in any lobbying, advertising or publicity activity intended to influence a matter before Parliament or the executive".

Press Gallery deputy chair Katie Bradford confirmed Thompson has resigned his associate membership.

Dotcom did not respond immediately to request for comment.

He is bankrolling the party but is not eligible to stand for election.

Dotcom, who is still battling extradition to the United States on copyright charges, unveiled the party's logo on Twitter today.

The logo's colours appear to be deliberately neutral from a traditional Left-Right perspective, comprising white text against a purple background.

Information technology industry leaders were yesterday keeping their distance.

Xero founder Rod Drury said he had no comment on whether the party would be good or bad for the technology industry.

Institute for Information Technology Professionals chief executive Paul Matthews said the institute would "prefer to stay out of this one".

 - The Dominion Post


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