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Banks resignation: Key confirms National will abandon employment law change ahead of election

UPDATE / June 9: At his post-cabinet press conference, Prime Minister John Key confirmed National will not attempt to pass the  Employment Relations Amendment Bill following John Banks' resignation.


John Banks to resign Epsom seat Friday

UPDATE  / June 8. 5pm: ACT has just released a statement from John Banks saying he will resign his Epsom seat Friday.

Given it is now less than six months before the election, it is unlikely** a byelection will be called, leaving National reliant on the Maori Party for a majority until Parliament breaks up July 31 ahead of the September 20 election. That effectively scuppers the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, and its sister legislation, the Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill, which would allow the casual labour to replace fulltime workers during a strike — at least during this Parliamentary term. The Maori Party strongly opposes both bills.

Mr Banks faced the near-certainty of being forced to resign after being sentenced on August 1.

The Epsom MP has applied for a discharge — the only outcome that would have allowed him to cling to his seat — but his odds are rated low.

Whyte seen stomping on Prebble
Political commentator and ACT consigliere Matthew Hooton sees the weekend's events as a clear example of ACT leader Jamie Whyte asserting himself over the party's old guard.

Campaign manager Richard Prebble made comments Saturday morning indicating he thought Mr Banks could stay; the Epsom MP had made a "clerical error" that was being treated as a crime — suggesting the narrative that ACT is tough on blue collar crime, but soft on white collar offending.

Mr Whyte took the opposite tack, meeting with Mr Banks and effectively telling him if he didn't resign by the end of the weekend, "the decision would be made for him" and his party membership revoked, Mr Hooton says.

Meanwhile, National stood down candidate Paul Goldsmith from a TV3 Epsom candidates debate this weekend — sending a clear signal that the Banks controversy has not affected the chances of a cuppa deal for ACT's David Seymour.

Mr Banks' statement:

Further to the of the decision of the High Court at Auckland last Thursday,  I will  resign the seat of Epsom effective from 5pm this Friday the 13th of  June 2014.

I will write to the Speaker tomorrow advising him of my resignation.

This timeframe allows a number of constituency, administrative and staffing matters in Epsom and Wellington to be dealt with over the next few days.

I have been privileged to serve the people of Epsom and New Zealand at both a local level and in Wellington.

I have given my heart and soul over four decades to making a worthwhile contribution to this country.  I have always endeavoured to do the right thing.  Consequently I am deeply saddened at this turn of events.

As the matter is still before the Court I will be making no further comment.

** Given it is now within a six month window before the general election, the government can introduce a motion against a byelection. John Key says his government will do so when the house sits again next week. 75% of MPs in favour of the motion for it to pass. Labour and the Greens have indicated they will support the government's motion, meaning there would be no byelection.

UPDATE  / June 8, 9am: ACT leader Jamie Whyte tells NBR a report he and ACT president John Thompson are meeting John Banks today is incorrect.

However, The Epsom MP still has a date with destiny. "I will certainly talk to him on Monday," Dr Whyte says.

UPDATE / June 7: ACT leader Jamie Whyte has upped the pressure on John Banks to accept his guilty verdict.

Midday today, Mr Whyte released a statement saying:

John will be sentenced on the 1st August, and has applied for a discharge without conviction.

Until then he is legally entitled to remain as a Member of Parliament but he could also choose to step down as an MP prior to sentencing.

John and I discussed this option earlier today and we have agreed that he will take the weekend to consider his alternatives.

One reading of that final sentence would be: if Mr Banks doesn't decide to go by the end of the weekend, he could get pushed.

Thursday, the ACT leader said "We must accept the court's decision."

Mr Whyte says he agrees with Prime Minister John Key that the verdict has not damaged ACT's brand.

It will be harder to make that argument if events drag on closer to the election.

After the guilty verdict was delivered, Auckland University Law School Associate Professor Bill Hodge told NBR there was almost no chance Mr Banks will be discharged without conviction. 

The ACT MP was found guilty under Section 134(1) of the Local Electoral Act for knowingly filing a false electoral return (or being "willfully blind" as Justice Ed Wylie put it) , which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and/or sentence of up to two years in prison. Prof Hodge had seen some hope for Mr Banks but only if he was found guilty of the lesser Section 134(2) or unknowlingly filing a false return, which carries a fine of up to $5000 but no possible prison term.

He will be sentenced on August 1.

If Mr Banks loses his application for a discharge, and is formally convicted on August 1, then he will have to resign his seat whether or not he is jailed. The key point in terms of the Electoral Act would be that he has been convicted of a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, triggering the law's resignation clause.

ACT leader Banks verdict: 'We must accept the court’s decision'
June 5: ACT leader Jamie Whyte has put pressure on John Banks to accept the High Court's guilty verdict in his electoral return trial.

"I am surprised by the verdict in the case against Mr Banks as the John Banks I know would never knowingly  file a false return. However, we must accept the court’s decision," Mr Whyte said in a statement released late afternoon.

"David Seymour, ACT's candidate for Epsom, is already serving the electorate full time."

Mr Banks resigned as ACT leader in the run-up to his case, and is due to resign as the party's Epsom MP at the September 20 election. 

Mr Whyte said he agreed with Prime Minister John Key's statement that the verdict will not damage the ACT Party brand.

But if events drag out closer to the September 20 election, it will get harder to make that case.

Mr Banks, who will be sentenced on August 1, has yet to say if he will appeal, or apply for his conviction to be discharged.

Comments and questions

Jamie - brush up the CV & jump on the bulk suit dry cleaning deal

That's a hard call for Banksie - as a man of integrity and if he believes he's innocent, not to defend that as far as he can. Although for the good of the party it would be better if he didn't .....

A man of integrity would remember a helicopter ride to Dotcoms mansion and receiving a $50,000 donation

Good to see your comment. John Banks has always been a decent and honest man, and whatever has happened suggests the advance , possibly, of age-related problems, which may account for some slightly maverick statements in recent times>

What is sickening is the degree of venom which is present in emails below.

ACT's new leader - well, heaven help us. But ACT is a dead duck, anyway.

If the (dis)honourable Mr Banks still believes hes innocent, after resigning from parliament, he could always take his case to a higher court. Bet is on he wont!!

Perhaps Mr Banks should consider a new career at GSCB? John Key, his mate, should be able to get him a job there.

Unlikely that Banks will do the honorable thing and resign despite his past personna of Holier than Thou

I would far rather have John Banks as MP for Epsom than the new guy .... Who is he again?

He's the guy who has just given me the first reason not to give my Epsom vote to ACT.

Just call him MMP, as in MotorMouthedPrig

John Banks should not resign. His crime is far far less than that of Winston Peters over the Owen Glenn donations. Let Winston Peters be charged first.

The Police and Judiciary in NZ seem very selective about charging politicians?

Why don't you take a private prosecution against Peters. Banks was only prosecuted because of a private action. The police and others did not believe a prosecution was justified. Thr judge clearly disagreed.

Surely this case blows the Police and Judiciary decision not to prosecute sky high, and to restore their cerdibility, they must prosecute Winston Peters?

Why must they wait for another private prosecution? To make them look even more stupid than they already are?

I would be embarrassed if a judge preferred the evidence of Dotcom and his wife to that of my wife and myself. That would be enough for me to resign.

"a man of integrity" - wilful ignorance much Graham?

Is Justice Edwin Wylie's crystal clear ruling difficult for you to understand?

"Mr Banks, I find you guilty of the charge,"

Judge Wylie also said he was "satisfied beyond reasonable doubt" that Banks either had actual knowledge of the Dotcom donations or he deliberately did not check the electoral return so the donations could be transmitted as anonymous.(1)

There was a time when Banks appeared to have strongly held moral convictions. He said (1999) “the casinos want the money of the most vulnerable people”, and invited parliamentarians to “go and watch the Polynesian-Maori office cleaners at 2 o’clock in the morning in the Auckland gambling den, to see what point I am making.”(2)

Two years earlier he was on the same theme, claiming that “the little people of this country have been sucked, hung, drawn, quartered, bled by these people in these casinos”. (3)

Come the Crony City convention centre - a complete about-face. Integrity? Zilch, zip, nada.

The Banks, Field, Collins, Jones types reflect that much our political system is a self-serving disgrace. The vast majority of the public are ill-informed - becoming stupider and fatter by the day spoon-fed vested interest sensationalist sound-bite 'journalism' infotainment and 'reality' crap TV programming which indoctrinates conspicuous consumption and a spend, spend, spend 'I'm better than you' cut throat culture.


Quote sources:
(3) Kudos Brian Rudman via Denise Roche.

Of course Judges never get it wrong, Luke, do they?

Wow Luke, take a chill pill. Cleaner's aren't ever likely to be management and are generally happy to have a job and not be bludgers. People seem to be spoon fed information from newspapers or the TV news which are equally biased. If I were John Banks' wife, I would be very upset that Mrs Dotcom was believed over me. That part I just don't get.

You have to know someone very well to dislike them as much as seem to dislike John Banks, I would like to know what he did to you for you to have formed that opinion of him and I am sure he would like to know also. Other wise you obviously rely on other peoples opinions to form your own.

How could anything damage the Act brand? What is there to damage? A bad reputation?

Feel for Banksie. Here he was, doing his best to exorcise the demons of his past, and now they've been rudely visited upon him with the judge's verdict.

I don't feel for Banksie

He dug his own grave based on his own rules.
He chose to break his own rules in such a blatantly ridiculous and arrogant manner which was a ludicrous decision after such a long political career.

The moment he took those cheques from Dotcom he destroyed his previously unblemished history and is now suffering the consequences.

If he had of owned up to his mistakes earlier we would all feel for him - but he chose not to and lied for 4 years over this


I’ve been an admirer of Banksie for years and for what he has accomplished in life, but on this occasion, he has been hoist by his own petard. It surely must be obvious to anyone with a functioning neuron that he has been economical with the truth in this matter.

To err is human, so give the man a break. In the overall scheme of things, I’m sure this will be just another “pfft” moment in the story of his life. Ironically, And besides, Banks may just be the sacrificial lamb that is required to bring all those arrogant, self- serving politicians to heel..

Being retired from politics will be the best thing the man has done in a while. Go well Mr. Banks

Johns Banks is entitled to be an MP until sentencing prevents him from doing so. He should stay until then regardless.
The views he should resign before hand rightly or wrongly stand only to expose the taxpayer to the cost of a by election. This is nothing but financial arrogance over personal grandstanding.
He is entitled to stay and he should.

Sadly Banks would appear to be the norm when it comes to integrity and politicians.

Banksie has shown more integrity by resigning for his wrongs, than Len Brown has for his and he still represents us in AKL.
Banksie for Mayor for me at least he has got a pair and bigger than Len's

I care little for this latest issue but I do consider his pending resignation just dessert for him stuffing up the police and traffic system of this country. There are other issues for which I choose not to look through rose tinted glasses also.

Among the many good things John Banks has done, his timely resignation is another one to chalk up. It's a great pity he didn't plead guilty at the outset. It would seem that he and his ilk still have a lot to learn.

It's a very odd and disturbing little country that we live in when one politician, John Banks, is brought before the courts and found guilty of not revealing that he knew who his anonymous donors were, and yet another, David Cunliffe, who also knows who his anonymous donors are but won't say, walks around scot free. And no-one, particularly the media it would seem, gives a damn.

What did George Orwell have to say about a nation that exhibits such an astonishing state of affairs again? Oh that's right. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. I wonder what the full story is behind that.....

Will David Cunliff be taken to court for sending campaigning on the Christchurch election day I know he was given a warning by police and donated a miserable $1000 to come charity that probably doesn't exist. what was his excuse again oh yes that's right 'I wasn't aware of the rules" seems pretty sad that David Cunliff has been in parliament for over a decade now and does not know or remember the rules just as the excuse given by John Banks throughout his court trial. So lets bring on the private prosecution against David Cunliff and while were at it why not against David Sheerer for driving a forklift on TV without a forklift license while he was promoting some business opening in Christchurch when he was once leader of the Labour party and why not against Russell Norman for cycling without a helmet again for another TV appearance around kids and bikes.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a crime is this matter, how important is it to me or my neighbour. Equal to defending a minor vehicle crime allegation is what I say and of little if any importance.

No one has been left unsafe or out of pocket by Banks not disclosing the donation - who was harmed? That is the question. The answer is the public purse, funding the chasing down this crime that has harmed few if any.

Peter Dunn did far more damage than Banks, by not acting on legal highs in a firmer fast manner.

I am not a Banks fan, but regret not voting for him in favour of loopy Len.
One more obvious thing, associating with Dot Com is perilous.
To the accountant in the South who instigated this, one word, wanker.

I totally agree. As Ms Boag said, "this decision should send a shiver up every politicians back ...."
Take the "Cunliffe Trust',(deliberately set up to hide donor identity) Mr cunliffe claims to now naming three of the five big donors, and "returning the money to the two who didn't want to be named'. But hang on a minute, did not Mr Cunliffe have the free use of their money during his campaign and so they should be identified? Maybe he should be brought to face the same Judge as Mr Banks faced?

Yes now we have MP's being retrospectively prosecuted after initially being over looked for wrong doing by the police then we need to revisit Peters and Cunliffe, possibly others - or is this a selective process?

Yes, and I hope they're all sleeping uncomfortably in their beds tonight, should another Mr. McCready come a callin'

Peters yes. Cunliffe is different. It was internal campaigning for Labour leadership. Disclosure rules do not apply.

The register of pecuniary interests applies though.


OK being the 13th is as poor taste as a Ford Cougar for mums

Is he hoping by putting out a few days there may be empathy or we'll forget? Is he going to serenade like run away Jones - also of integrity but more the cheque book

That's a bit of a cheap shot. It's not like Banks needs the money. As he pointed out, he needs a few days for his team to tidy up some of the constituent and parliamentary business before handing over to someone else. Seems fair to me.

He needs to formally write to the speaker and politely await the speakers reply. DOH

The law is the law - like it or not

The issue is the arrogance prior of knowing you got away with it in our banana republic

Weird is so called people of intelligence in Epsom allowing MP / PMs to vote for them as the view is they are so thick or cant be trusted - like people in prison (what the Epsom electorate must seem like at dinner parties - "where do you live mmm Waiuku"). Come on - cup of teas are election rigging - we watch countries in the Congos elections & say isnt that terrible. Gifting this, gifting that, how do the people in that electorate feel about being treated so childlike.

Integrity would have an announcement + then let the democratic process take its due course

As interesting as this circus has been I am fascinated by commentators and fellow politicians' reactions, David Cunliff disappointed me, Jon Key and even Len Brown were very professional when asked for an opinion.

This is excellent news. Hopefully it''s the death of this contemptible piece of legislation, which merely pandered to the inept, the unscrupulous and the greedy.