A recent announcement suggests that Kim Dotcom’s Internet party may have struck difficulties. Dotcom is a canny operator and he realises that by amassing anything short of 5% of the vote and failing to win an electorate seat, both of which are likely, all he will do is render a chunk of likely anti Government votes worthless and contribute significantly to National’s re-election prospects.
So Dotcom has made an announcement which could be significant for the election results. If the Internet Party is not looking like it will break the 5% threshold it will ask all supporters of the Internet Party to vote for a political party prepared to adopt the Internet Party’s policies. Labour and the Greens are likely to be endorsed and I think that we can say that National’s and ACT’s chances are nil. The announcement appears to concede that the Internet Party will not win an electoral seat which I think is right.
This will cause some concern for National’s strategists. Dotcom has shown that he is a master of PR and the possibility of a determined, intelligent, well resourced German who has an intense dislike for this Government throwing his weight behind Labour and/or the Greens will terrify the right. A couple of percentage points of party vote to the left could be the difference between winning and losing the next election.
National will no doubt be peering through the Electoral Act and wondering if its gutting of the Electoral Finance Act was such a good thing. Perhaps the Electoral Finance Act was not so bad after all and big money involvement in an election should actually be frowned upon.
Another recent announcement concerning Kim Dotcom is the Green’s statement that if the Court issues a warrant for his extradition they will probably fight it. If they are part of Government this could be significant. Under section 30 of the Extradition Act 1999 the Minister of Justice has the final say on whether someone should be extradited once a Court has issued an extradition warrant. The Minister can decide that the person is not to be surrendered if he determines that the person is accused of an offence based on an accusation against the person not made in good faith in the interests of justice “and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it would be unjust or oppressive to surrender the person”. There is also a wide residue discretion allowing the Minister to decline extradition if “for any other reason the Minister considers that the person should not be surrendered”.
According to the Herald the Green’s Russell Norman does not support the extradition process.
I just don’t think it’s fair … look at the way they have been acting illegally against him … They illegally raided his mansion, they illegally obtained evidence, they illegally gave the evidence to the US Government against the directions of a judge.
That is not a lawful or fair process.”
Norman has since backed away from this statement, denied that he has made any offers to Dotcom about his possible extradition but admitted that he had talked to Dotcom about not setting up the Internet Party. He has also set out on Facebook his view of matters.
Labour are being more circumspect. Again according to the Herald:
Labour leader David Cunliffe this morning rejected any suggestion that Labour would block an extradition order.
He said the court process so far appeared to show the Government’s actions were flawed, but he respected the separation between the judicial process and political matters.
His approach is conceptually the correct one. This is a judicial process and not a political process.
This has not stopped another Jonoism from Paddy Gower who has reported that Labour is open to the idea of stopping the extradition and suggesting there was a political angle to it. There is also an attempt to present the differences as a split between Labour and the Greens. Some things are too subtle for 3News to understand.
What Cunliffe did is not rule anything out. Any Minister making the decision has to have an open mind when considering the issue otherwise they will find themselves in the High Court quicker than you can say “Judicial Review”. But I think it is safe to say that Dotcom’s prospects would be better under a new Government than they are under the current Administration although the implications on NZ-US relations of a Ministerial veto could be the most significant since the Nuclear Ship ban.
Dotcom’s extradition hearing is due to happen in June. Appeals either way are very likely and I can see the case dragging out for at least 12 months. The next Minister of Justice may have a rather difficult decision to make and the chances of Judicial Review of his or her decision are high.
Whatever happens I suspect that Dotcom will continue to be in the public eye for some time.