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John Banks to quit

ACT has confirmed its leader John Banks will not be seeking re-election in the 2014 general election.

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He will also stand down as ACT leader when the party holds its annual meeting on March 1.

The party will be seeking a new candidate for Epsom but party president Boscawen says it will not be him, and nor will he be standing for the leadership.

The decision to stand aside was his and his alone, Mr Banks told press conference at Parliament today. 

"We needed a circuit breaker. The narrative can't continue to being all about me," he said, in reference to the ongoing legal battles over donations from internet millionaire Kim Dotcom for his 2010 Auckland mayoral bid. 

Auckland's High Court yesterday ruled Mr Banks has to stand trial for not declaring donations from Mr Dotcom. The principle issue is whether Mr Banks in fact knew what he represented, in his election return, as anonymous donations were in fact from Mr Dotcom. 

Instead. Mr Banks said the "narrative" for ACT needs to be about what it brings to National -led government - an emphasis on encouraging enterprise, low tax and small government policies. 

Mr Banks was National MP for Whangarei between 1981 and 1999: asked whether he regretted his return in the 2011 election he responed that "hindsight is a wonderful thing."

"If I could go back in time, yes, I probably decide differently."

An NBR Business Pulse paid subscriber poll in October found former ACT leader Rodney Hide the favourite to succeed Mr Banks in the event of his resignation. Catherine Isaac was second on 19%, Mr Boscawen third on 6%.

On his election fraud trial, Mr Banks said "I am not fearful of the process or where it will end."

His official reason for quitting is to spend more time with his family, and on business interests.

False start
In an apparent goof ahead of this morning’s 11am press conference, Mr Boscawen posted a message on the party’s website confirming the news (the message was deleted, but not before NBR captured it).

“John has decided, after 36 years of public service, that it is time for him to spend more time on his family and his private business interests,” Mr Boscawen says.

Mr Banks will continue as the MP for Epsom and leader of ACT in the meantime.

It has been understood for some time Mr Banks was unlikely to re-contest Epsom in 2014.

The wider question is whether the Act Party puts a less tainted candidate into Epsom in 2014 – speculation here ranges from current party president, the indefatigable Mr Boscowan, or rising star and Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer.

Today’s press conference follows yesterday’s court decision requiring Mr Banks to stand trial for breaches of the law relating to donations for his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign and whether those donations, especially those from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, really were anonymous.

Mr Boscawen says the board of Act will shortly be opening nominations for candidates for the 2014 General Election. 

“We have a number of very talented potential candidates and we expect to name our key candidates, including a new candidate for Epsom, by the time of our annual conference in early March.”


More by Rob Hosking

Comments and questions

At least John Banks has the guts to quit for the sake of his party.

Being pushed doesnt infer guts. Refusing to accept ones own ridiculous stance doesn't either.

Depending upon who replaces him I may be able to return to voting ACT - I certainly couldn't as long as John Banks was leader.

Banksie doesn't need this rubbish.....he should just call it quits now and force a bye-election to further deplete the lefts coffers.......he would be one of the most honest hard working Members of Parliament this country has ever had.....unlike so many of the troughing seat warmers currently sucking off the taxpayers teet. Good luck Mr Banks - you deserve better.

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.”

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”. Kudos Brian Rudman via Denise Roche.

Nigel Morrison (Sky City CEO) told the court of handing Banks a cheque in an envelope at a meeting in 2010. This donation was handed over during a 10-minute meeting in Mr Morrison’s office.

Will be really interesting next Friday to see whether Len B continued his practice from last election of whitewashing his own donations through a specific trust.

If so I hope the media that has hounded this story with Banks has the fortitude to run just as many pieces on an even more deplorable practice from his (one time) opponent

Amen. But don't hold your breath.

Yeah. As an embarrassed Epsom voter I cannot be more pleased than hearing this news. Kudos to the bush lawyer who pushed this.

The man who pushed this is a bankrupt convicted fraudster and convicted blackmailer. And Banks has not been proven guilty of anything yet - and may not be.

I see Cunliffe is being investigated by the police for breaching the electoral laws.
Does his housing policy cover "glass houses" and "stones"

Yet another scalp for Dotcom. Hard to think of any other individual in NZ who has had such a diverse affect on the NZ political landscape, and with more relevations yet to come.

When will ACT supporters, and Conservative and Green and left wing Labour realise that the votes are in the centre. And Hide shouldn't come back for ACT, never got them over the line last time

Fancy not knowing you received 50 thousand dollars or not remembering a helicopter ride, these were outright lies

A great chance to bring back Rodney hide and get this show back on the road.

what puzzles me is the Police said they didnt have enough evidence to put it before the court yet the court said there was enough evidence to hold a hearing. Banksy's best defence is the Police as they said no offence and who presumably will be called to Court by the Defence...Who pulls strings on all this?... and the police didnt hold back on the teapot saga.Its not a pretty saga for someone in blue.

Puzzles everybody. Either something sinster or, incompetence. Not a good look either way.

This should puzzle anyone. Unfortunately, government employees are lapdogs to the politicians. They say anything they are told too, unless in a court of law.

Its a shame alot of other politicians dont suffer the same fate as the 'dishonourable John Banks'. We might then have politicians that work for the people, rather than themselves and their otherwise short term vested interests.

Bring back Rodney

Agree. Putting aside his hypocritical actions of the initial funding arrangements for his overseas junket with his girlfriend...all is forgiven Rodney, take the helm again otherwise the HMS ACT will sink into oblivion.

Too late Mac; that leaky old tub and it's crew of morally bankrupt picaroons is well and truly on it's way to the bottom.


John Banks has been a decent, hard-working individual who through sheer slog and initiative raised himself up from a background that would have defeated a lot of others. He should be well respected for this, and I do so. He has great courage

In recent years, others, too will have noticed that his thinking has become a little confused, perhaps even slightly eccentric at times - which may underpin some of his less than sensible decision-making.

Time to give a fundamentally good man a break.

ACT is dead in the water. Rodney's thinking is all over the place, He has compromised himself in the past and the extremes of the new Right ideology which flourished under the recent NZ Business Roundtable have cost this country a great deal.

We don't need another Bob Jones, and the idea of Matthew Hooton leading a political party actually made me laugh. No appeal there to New Zealanders at large.

What we need to do is to grow up intellectually and politically, so that we acknowledge the inherent corruption of the party system has had its day, andto reject still being led by the nose by self elected leaders.

New Zealanders are perfectly capable of making the decisions themselves concerning the directions of the country - just as the Swiss do - by insisting on being able to say yes or no ri the constant stream of legislation being foisted off on us by our political rulers.

We can control our politicians ourselves. We just need to insist on having the provision for the 100 Days holding period for all legislation passed by Parliament passed in law - so we can say yes, or no.

In other words,goodbye to party stooges. Iindividuals need to start standing up to be counted.

The interests of the country need to be put before the interests of the party.

Wise words. Couldnt agree with you more.