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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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When you don't learn from mistakes

17 March 2017

Nothing is ever a total loss. Even the worst disaster brings lessons that can be used to enable a higher level of preparedness for the next bad event.

Most people find that when they make mistakes, the lessons learned serve them well in the future. It is through trying and failing that we gain a great deal of our most useful knowledge -- unless of course we don't learn anything from those mistakes.

A man, much wiser than myself, once said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Well maybe NZ's immigration people should be listening.

We all recall the story of Kim Dotcom.

Kim was a multi-millionaire with a very shady past who applied for residency in New Zealand.

Since residency and citizenship appear to be commodities that can be purchased, if you apply sufficient cash to the right palms, he breezed in and set up shop in a huge mansion near Auckland.

Kim wined and dined the politicians, put on fireworks displays for the peasants and continued raking in enormous fortunes from his online business which, the US authorities alleged, were just a giant copyright infringement.

Eventually the NZ government tired of Kim and allowed the USA (by way of its Kiwi peers) to ride roughshod over the protections and rights that ought to apply to NZ residents.

Kim and his family were held at gunpoint for hours and their possessions were taken from them. Kim himself was thrown in jail for some time before being released on bail and now pleads for his right to stay in the country whose politicians and bureaucrats once welcomed him with outstretched palms.

So what have we learned from this?

Firstly, copyright offences are very serious things. They justify illegal spying, commando-type raids on a family and what ultimately amounts to armed robbery and detention.

Secondly, not only is our immigration system able to be bought by anyone with enough cash to grease the right palms (eh Mr Thiel?) but it's also so stupid it never learns from past mistakes.

Now, finally, to the point of today's column...

According to this NZ Newswire report a Filipino man has been granted NZ residency despite having been found guilty of copyright charges in the USA; charges that amounted to a $35m award against him by the courts.

Hmmm... that sounds vaguely similar to Mr Dotcom's case doesn't it?

Now one can only assume that if Mr Motomal had enough money to settle the $35m judgment in a "private settlement",he's not short of a quid or two. One can only assume that he had enough cash left to grease those palms so, for the time being, he joins Mr Thiel and Mr Cameron as "flavours of the day" from an immigration standpoint.

Or maybe it's that he qualifies under the list of jobs which can't be filled by Kiwis -- do we need copyright infringers? Don't we already have enough of our own? Couldn't Kim do that job? After all, he does have a stunning resume in that regard, at least according to our good friends in the USA.

Interestingly enough, Immigration are saying that the judgment against Mr Motomal for copyright infringement won't hurt his residency status -- because "it's just a civil case".

So someone remind me why Kim has been stripped of his assets and faces extradition again? What was it *he* did? Oh, that's right -- he infringed copyright.

Now I know that the USA tacked on some money laundering charges to try and introduce an element of criminality but surely even our cloth-headed politicians can see through that rouse. So is copyright infringement a crime or not? Why is Mr Motomal being welcomed with open arms while we try to kick Kim out on his arse?

Sigh!

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