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Deputy Prime Minister Bill English yesterday took a swipe at Kim Dotcom, saying he is trying to buy his way out of trouble.
Mr English, in opening remarks at a post-Budget breakfast in Queenstown, said the German's Internet Party, which has appointed ex-Alliance cabinet minister Laila Harre as leader and done a deal with Hone Harawira's Mana Party - had pushed the Budget into the background.
''We don't mind Kim Dotcom taking time from [Labour leader] David Cunliffe, which he is doing, but if we knew there was $3 million on the table, we'd have done a deal with him too,'' Mr English said, in reference to a claim by Mr Dotcom that his party will have a $3 million election war chest.
''There's been a lot of talk lately about banning foreign ownership of housing. Well, if we could we'd ban foreign ownership of political parties.
''This guy is trying to buy influence to get his extradition stopped. It pains me to say this but we are relying on lawyers to nail him, and we hope they do.''
Mr English's salvo comes on top of comments this week by Prime Minister John Key who told The New Zealand Herald Mr Dotcom was trying to buy influence, and get politicians in place who might block his extradition.
''You've got a guy who can't buy a house in New Zealand, but he can buy a political party. I think most New Zealanders would look at that and be pretty cynical.''
Ms Harre, at the announcement of her leadership and the Internet Party-Mana Party union, said of the new Internet Mana alliance that she made ''no apologies for acting in the strategic interests of this generation''.
Mr English told the Queenstown breakfast the country had run up a lot of debt in the past five years, about $65 billion, of which $15 billion was for the Christchurch rebuild, and it was now time to start paying it back, given the books were healthier and the Budget had produced a surplus.
New Zealand's debt level wasn't huge but it was more per capita than Australia and the United Kingdom and ''we have to keep it low as we're a bit of a credit risk because we're a smaller economy''.
''We're optimistic about where we're going to get to in the next five to 10 years, and you're feeling that in Queenstown. Growth markets are discovering us. There's a sharp rise in Chinese tourists, which can only grow, and more and more overseas consumers are wanting to buy our stuff.
''We want to make sure businesses can commit capital and take risks.
''The decisions that will lift us in five years' time are being made now and we want to make that as easy as possible.''