POWER PLAY with Brent Edwards

5:54 am on 18 July 2014

Mr Dotcom has made it his mission to undermine the Prime Minister, John Key.

He has even gone as far as starting a political party - the Internet Party - in a bid to unseat Mr Key and his National-led Government. But while Mr Dotcom gets plenty of attention it is doing nothing to dent the popularity of Mr Key.

In the latest opinion polls out this week the National Party has continued to draw strong support, while Labour and its likely support parties, including Internet, trail well behind.

This week there were more revelations about the Security Intelligence Service's involvement in Mr Dotcom's bid for residency back in 2010.

We had already known that the SIS had looked into Mr Dotcom's past before advising Immigration New Zealand that he presented no security risk.

Kim Dotcom at a parliamentary committee hearing on GCSB legislation in July last year.

Kim Dotcom at a parliamentary committee hearing on GCSB legislation in July last year. Photo: AFP

Two years ago information released to Radio New Zealand also revealed the SIS had contacted the FBI and then passed on to the police the American crime agency's interest in conducting a joint operation against Mr Dotcom.

The new information released this week to The New Zealand Herald revealed the SIS had initially put its investigation of Mr Dotcom on hold because of its worries about his previous criminal convictions. Email exchanges between SIS officers also referred to political pressure before the spy agency then gave Mr Dotcom the all clear on security grounds.

These revelations have prompted conspiracy theorists, led by Mr Dotcom, to conclude he was given permanent residency so the United States authorities could then begin extradition proceedings to get him to the US to face piracy charges in that country.

It ignores the fact Mr Dotcom himself was putting pressure on authorities here to grant him residency. He was also happy to ingratiate himself with senior political figures in an effort to facilitate that process.

None of the new information really adds much to what was already known, and questions about just what senior Government ministers, including Mr Key, knew about the Dotcom case and when remain unanswered.

But conspiracy? More likely cock-up followed by cover-up.

Mr Dotcom was again in the news later in the week when the Independent Police Complaints Authority released its report in response to complaints from the Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman.

Former GCSB director Ian Fletcher.

Former GCSB director Ian Fletcher. Photo: RNZ

The authority found the police had been right not to prosecute officers of the Government Communications Security Bureau for illegally monitoring Mr Dotcom's communications as part of the police and the FBI's joint operation.

It said the police were justified in relying on a legal opinion from the Solicitor-General that there was lack of criminal intent on the part of the GCSB in its illegal monitoring of Mr Dotcom.

Apparently the fact the spies thought the law allowed them to do what they did is good enough reason to let them off the hook.

Other citizens - who get confused about tax or other laws - will be looking forward to government authorities taking the same tolerant approach as the police. But don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, Mr Dotcom is now considering his legal options following the release of the IPCA report. On the political front he is promising to reveal all about exactly what Mr Key knew about the investigation but not until five days before the election.

Again don't hold your breath.

Mr Dotcom might be doing enough to gain the support of the conspiracy theorists and that might be enough to give Internet-Mana 2 or 3 percent in the party vote - enough to give them two or three more MPs as long as Hone Harawira wins Te Tai Tokerau.

From left, Hone Harawira, Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom and Vikram Kumar.

From left, Hone Harawira, Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom and Vikram Kumar. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker-Wilson

But it is unlikely to shift the overall sentiment of the wider electorate. Most of those voters continue to have strong faith in Mr Key.

While Mr Dotcom has been the centre of so much attention this week, the Maori Party, which already has three MPs, has gone largely unnoticed.

Last weekend it officially launched its election campaign in Rotorua with a bold bid to win all seven Maori seats. It also released some of its key policies, saying its campaign would be based around a push to improve the lives of whanau.

Both major mainstream television channels - Television One and TV Three - ignored the event and it received scant coverage in the country's mainstream news media. The Maori Party did not help itself by launching its campaign on a Saturday night.

But as a support party of the Government - and with the strong possibility it will continue in that role after the election - it surely should have garnered at least as much attention as Mr Dotcom and his political followers.

Conspiracy or cock-up?

Follow Brent Edwards on Twitter @rnzgallerybrent