The persuasive Dotcom
Isn’t it nice that Winston Peters has finally found an immigrant he wants to help stay in New Zealand!
It seemed to strike a chord, with 32 retweets and 36 favourites. And that’s because it is all very curious. Peters was basically condemning the government for letting Dotcom into New Zealand in the first place. He then met Dotcom at his mansion, and came away a defender of Dotcom. Winston – the great defender of immigrants’ rights.
Also of interest are the two dates that Russel Norman flew (at taxpayer expense, like Winston) to meet Dotcom. Again, how interesting that they go to him, almost like supplicants. He met Dotcom on November 1 and 29, 2013.
On the very same day he met him on November 1, he attacked the Police on Radio NZ over Dotcom’s case. Shouldn’t the leader of a party that believes in transparency have revealed, “Oh by the way I just met with my buddy Kim this morning, and tried to persuade him not to set up his own political party, and instead endorse the Greens.”
And then again on November 29, when he again met Dotcom, he was again in the media talking about his case – again with no mention of his meetings, and attempt to get Dotcom to endorse the Greens instead of set up his own party.
Of course we now know that the plan Dotcom came up with is to set up his political party, spend up massively and then at the last minute self-destruct the party and endorse parties he approves of. Now Parliament has laws restricting how much a political party can spend during the regulated period. Wouldn’t it be a nice way to get around that pesky law by having a second political party able to spend a couple of million dollars running your attack lines, and then pulling out and endorsing you. I’m sure that isn’t the intent but it could well be the outcome – and the sort of outcome the Greens would condemn with their most lofty rhetoric if it involved other parties.
Vernon Small writes on the issue:
But Norman went badly wrong by confirming in public that in government he would push for Dotcom’s extradition to be overturned.
On the political level it threw the door open to accusations of secret trade-offs – despite Norman’s denials.
For a party that has made hay over ‘‘private’’ meetings and implied conflicts of interest between National ministers and corporate interests, it was a naive own-goal. Deny it all he likes, he has loaded a gun for National to fire at him every time he mutters ‘‘SkyCity convention centre dirty deal.’’
But he also erred badly in apparently pre-judging the outcome of the ministerial consideration that must follow the court’s extradition ruling – especially if he is serious about being a senior minister or potentially the deputy prime minister in the next government.
Norman says the extradition is a two stage process – the court case and then the justice minister’s final call.
But ministerial discretion to over-ride an extradition order should be something other than a purely political act and must be seen to be divorced from party political interests.
To avoid bringing the process into disrepute, and to keep faith with partner countries, it has to be grounded – and the law contains specific grounds for rejecting extradition. Some are obvious, such as an assurance that the country seeking the extradition order will not execute an extradited New Zealander.
The minister’s decision should be exercised in light of all the facts at the time. Some of those may be illuminated by the court. None ought to be assumed months in advance.
Small points out that Norman has now accepted he can not be involved in any decision making around the case if he is a minister. I suspect no Green MP could be.
I yesterday blogged on MPs who had met Dotcom and asked questions about his case. Trevor Mallard was one of those. I’m told his meeting was about 30 seconds in the gallery of Parliament, so fair to say that doesn’t count as a real meeting. Also fair to say that Trevor doesn’t need anyone to encourage him to ask parliamentary questions – he asks thousands.
Winston Peters, howeve,r is a much more curious case He flipped 180 degrees from wanting Dotcom never allowed into New Zealand, to championing his cause. Is it merely a mutual enemy, or something more? Could Dotcom endorse NZ First as well as Labour and the Greens at the election after he spends$2 million on a fictitious party, which gets him around third party spending limits?
UPDATE: A good ODT editorial:
There are suspicions of a link between the number of questions being asked around Mr Dotcom and the conclusion the Opposition is seeking political favours from the man who has promised to start the Internet Party – but then added that he would not run in the election if the polling is less than the 5% MMP threshold (followed up by stating the party would be a contender in the election).
Parliamentary records show Labour MP Trevor Mallard has asked 132 questions regarding Mr Dotcom, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters 82, Labour MP David Shearer 36, deputy Labour leader Grant Robertson 17 and Green co-leader Russel Norman 13.
Actually Grant is no longer deputy Labour leader.
And it emerged that Dr Norman has suffered what is commonly called a ”brain fade” about his visits with Mr Dotcom. He cannot remember if he phoned Mr Dotcom first, or if it was the other way around, when setting up a meeting to ask Mr Dotcom not to
launch the Internet Party because it would take voters away from the Greens target.
Dr Norman, who has often attacked Prime Minister John Key about his apparent lack of recall on meetings with senior government officials, dismissed a regulation question of who contacted whom as of no material value.
Dr Norman, when pushed in an interview, also indicated he would be prepared to overturn any extradition ruling that ordered Mr Dotcom back to face charges of internet piracy in the United States if he was in a position to do so.
Given that admission, and the fact the visits to Mr Dotcom appear an attempt to stop him from launching the Internet Party, Dr Norman has effectively ruled out any hope the Green MP could have at becoming associated with the justice portfolio in a Labour-led government.
That is a good thing!
Dr Norman and Messrs Peters, Mallard, Robertson and Shearer need to make public statements declaring whether they have met Mr Dotcom and, if they have, in what capacity.
If they are offering political deals, then their outrage at Mr Key saying who he is prepared to work with after the election later this year can be seen in its true light.
If taxpayer-funded transport was used to travel to the mansion, that information should also be released.
As I said above, Trevor Mallard has clarified it was a 30-second meeting at Parliament.
Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.