Home > The Body Politic > Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

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One of the Golden Rules of politics is: learn to count.  This refers to everything from passing legislation to votes of confidence. In short, it means if you don’t have the numbers in government, you might as well call it a day and hand power to the Opposition (or call a snap election).

Counting especially focuses the attention of parliamentary leaders such as Key and Gillard, who have (respectively) one and two seat majorities in their respective Parliaments.

It means, also, that if a government has a generous majority, it can afford the luxury of holding their own Ministers to account and make grand exhibitions of standing down those who have done something naughty.

Conversely, if a government has only the slimmest majority, that same government will hang on to, and defend to the bitter end, any errant Minister or MP.

Some recent history should illustrate how this works…

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That Was Then

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2008 – 2011 National-led government majority: 16

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Richard Worth

Richard Worth was  Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Land Information, Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand, Minister Responsible for the National Library, and Associate Minister of Justice, in the Fifth National Government.

In March 2009,  reports emerged that Worth’s trips to India were a conflict of interest. It was alleged he spoke on behalf of the Government while engaging in  private business deals.

On 3 June 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced Worth’s resignation from his Ministerial portfolios, after several allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward woman.

John Key said,

Dr Worth tendered his resignation to me last night, and I have accepted it.  He advised me of some private matters in respect of which he felt it appropriate that he should resign as a Minister. I accepted his resignation and have advised the Governor-General accordingly.”

See: PM’s Statement on Richard Worth’s resignation

On 12 June 2009, Worth announced his resignation from Parliament.

See:  Embattled MP quits Parliament

In October 2010, Richard Worth was  appointed to a  diplomatic role, “to the surprise of the prime minister”, as  Monaco’s honorary consul to New Zealand.

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Pansy Wong

Former National Party politician. Ms Wong was New Zealand’s first Asian MP, serving as a member of parliament for the National Party from 1996 to 2011. She was also the first Asian Cabinet Minister, with portfolios;  Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Associate Minister for ACC, and Associate Minister of Energy and Resources in the 2008-11 National Government.

In November 2010, it was alleged that Ms Wong mis-used Parliamentary travel funds so that her husband could conduct private business in China.

See:  Pansy Wong’s political future in jeopardy

On 12 November 2010, as allegations surrounding her and her husband’s mis-use of Parliamentary funding were  investigated, Pansy Wong stepped down from her Ministerial portfolios.

John Key said,

At the end of the day she has to take responsibility for the fact her spouse was using her travel discount by virtue of her tenure in parliament, and on that basis she failed to exercise her responsibilities properly. She offered her resignation to me and I though it was appropriate that I accepted that resignation.”

See: Key: Wong ‘paying a very heavy price’

On 3 December 2010, an investigation by Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith, found “no evidence of systemic abuse” of the Parliamentary allowance,

It found that one trip, a flight from Beijing to Lianyungang, China in December 2008, could have been in breach of the Speaker’s Directions,” Speaker Lockwood Smith said in a statement.

“While this trip was unplanned and inadvertent, it could be construed as having been for a private business purpose.”

The report recommended Mrs Wong and her husband repay the travel rebate for that trip of $237.06 each.”

See: ‘No evidence of systematic abuse’ of travel perk by Pansy Wong

Dissatisfied with the Speaker’s investigation, Labour MP, Pete Hodgson, called for the Auditor-General to carry out an inquiry into Mrs Wong and her husband’s use of the travel allowance.

Eleven days later, on 14 December, Ms Wong made her decision and resigned from Parliament.

See: Pansy Wong resigns as MP

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Phil Heatley

On 25 February 2010, Phil Heatley resigned from his portfolios of  Minister of Housing and Minister of Fisheries after announcing that he had wrongly charged two bottle of wine to his Ministerial credit card,

I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.”

See: Phil Heatley’s resignation statement

John Key said,

I spent about an hour saying to him `look, I don’t think you should resign, I think you should stand aside.  I don’t think he’s a dishonest individual, I think he made some mistakes and they were silly, stupid and misguided.”

See:  Key says Heatley “a decent bloke”

However, Heatley did not resign from Parliament, and regained his Ministerial portfolios about a month later.

See:  Phil Heatley to be reinstated as a Minister

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This Is Now

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2011 – ? National-led government majority: 1

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John Banks

Allegations of not disclosing the sources of campaign donations have been made against John Banks. These donations were made by Sky City and web entrepreneur, Kim Dotcom.

In the case of Sky City, Mayor Len Brown received a similar amount of $15,000 from the Casino, and Brown later formerly declared it.

John Banks listed his $15,000 donation as “anonymous”.

In the case of Kim Dotcom, Banks has repeatedly stated, that he,

  • “could not remember” discussing donations with the businessman;
  • “could not recall”  flying in Dotcom’s helicopter;
  • “could not recall” suggesting that Dotcom split the $50,000 donation into two separate amounts of $25,000 each
  • “could not recall” phoning Dotcom to thank him for the donation
  • “barely knew Dotcom” and had met him for only 20 minutes – despite video later emerging of Banks and his wife partying with Dotcom and his wife, at the Dotcom mansion

John Key said,

At the end of the day, he either complied with the law or he didn’t – he said he did, I have absolutely no reason to doubt him. That’s not my responsibility. If somebody thinks that John Banks isn’t telling the truth, there’s a very simple remedy: they go to the police. That’s not my job to do a forensic investigation, my job is to assure myself I can retain confidence in a minister. If he tells me he followed the local government laws, then I accept him at his word.”

It appears  that John Key’s previous standard of accepting Ministerial resignations, whilst investigations are carried out, no longer applies.

What’s changed?

A difference in majority of 15, I would guess.

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Postscript:

PS 1; In yesterday’s NZ Herald, John Banks repeated his now well-known mantra,

I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear...”

The Herald noted that Mr Banks has not been returning their calls.

So much for not hiding or being fearful.

See: ‘I’ve nothing to fear’ – John Banks

PS 2; Police have confirmed they have received two complaints over “anonymous” donations made to John Banks during the 2010 mayoralty campaign.

See: Police confirm Banks complaints received

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Your call, Prime Minister.

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Additional

Banks accused of failing to declare donation

Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor

Banks questioned over Dotcom donation

Calls for John Banks to be stood down as minister

‘I’ve nothing to fear’ – John Banks

PM standing by under fire Banks

PM ‘turning blind eye’ to Banks – Shearer

Radio NZ Interview: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

Previous Blog Posts

Money in the Banks

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  1. Matthew
    30 April 2012 at 3:44 pm

    He got 7 $25,000 donations for his 2010 mayoral campaign. It beggars belief that someone would donate “anonymously” and John Banks didn’t know the identity of any of them. All those $25,000 donations would have come with strings attached. The public has a right to know who has bought favours of our public figures.

    He should step aside during the police investigation, and even if some loophole means he hasn’t broken a law, if he has lied to the public this week he has to go and be sacked from parliament.

  2. 30 April 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Indeed, Matthew. And I’ll bet you that those seven $25,000 donations will be scrutinised very carefully by a whole heap of people. If I were Banksie, I wouldn’t be sleeping well at the moment.

    The Big Question is: how long is he going to hang on for?

    • Matthew
      30 April 2012 at 4:10 pm

      The question then will be why didn’t Key act today or over the weekend?

      The delay is indicative that he doesn’t expect much in the way of standards of conduct.

      Well Mr Key guess what, the public expects more.

  3. Priss
    30 April 2012 at 5:14 pm

    “The question then will be why didn’t Key act today or over the weekend?”

    Probably because the dork wants to see if the shitstorm will die away and he’ll ride it out. I think he’s on P if he things it’s going to go away. But that’s ok, each day he waits, the more crap he’s going to put up with.

  4. Red
    1 May 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I was listening to my dad as he was watching all this on tv. He just shook his head and said that’s the last time he’s voting National. Yay!

  5. Gary
    7 May 2012 at 10:00 am

    Red :
    I was listening to my dad as he was watching all this on tv. He just shook his head and said that’s the last time he’s voting National. Yay!

    I’ve heard a few others talk like hat as well Red. National is goneburgers.

  6. Paul McD
    17 September 2012 at 2:17 pm

    thanks frank great ammo .will use it well ..double standards all round ..i was schocked how quickley maori party jumped into bed with key ..when the could have forme3d a grand co-eliction with labour ,greens ,etc ..

    • 17 September 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Excellent, Paul. Anything I have – use it well. Knowledge is power – and we outnumber the bastards 1,000-to-one.

  7. 17 September 2012 at 2:26 pm

    My thoughts exactly Frank.
    Such transparent hypocrisy.

    • Matt
      19 September 2012 at 10:13 pm

      He hasn’t deleted my contributions to his Facebook page. Everyone should go and like my comments and add their own.

      https://www.facebook.com/johnbanksnz

      • 20 September 2012 at 12:23 am

        I’m not sure your comments are still there, Matt, as I couldn’t see them. I’ve left a few comments myself, though.

      • 20 September 2012 at 9:33 am

        Yup, comments are gone, as far as I can see…

  8. 17 September 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Phillip Taito Field did jail time, but hey he was a brown politician. Why NZers aren’t jumping up and down demanding Banks dismissal is beyound me >:~\

  9. Ralph
    17 September 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Bansky….would-be and wannabe Mayor of Gotham City. Where is Batman now that we need him?

  10. Ralph
    17 September 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Um, correct answer…all of the above?

  11. John B
    17 September 2012 at 4:51 pm

    criminal backing up criminal like gang members

  12. Murray Olsen
    17 September 2012 at 5:11 pm

    It’s gotta be more than just Banks’ vote. Epsom would vote for blue shitpaper in a by-election, so there’s no loss there for Key. Banks was so obviously past his use by date, so why did Key bring him back in in the first place?

    • 18 September 2012 at 11:03 am

      Murray – Quite correct. The only reasons I can guess at are,

      (1) It would be a blow to Key’s ego and National’s prestige if they succumbed to Opposition and public pressure to dump Banks.

      (2) If Banks was to resign as MP for Epsom, that would leave a gap of a couple of months until a by-election elected a new National MP (Goldsmith?).

      I’m thinking that Key is hoping to “tough it out”.

      For Banks, this is the end of his political career. I doubt he’d be elected to sweep our streets any time soon.

  13. 17 September 2012 at 7:15 pm

    EXACTLY right Frank! What LAW did Richard Worth and Pansy Wong break before they ‘lost the confidence’ of shonky John Key? That’s right! NONE. About time the MPs of New Zealand ‘perceived’ to be ‘the least corrupt country in the world’ had an ENFORCEABLE CODE OF CONDUCT’? How come they don’t already?

  1. 2 May 2012 at 12:35 pm
  2. 20 August 2012 at 11:09 pm
  3. 17 September 2012 at 2:08 pm
  4. 17 September 2012 at 2:12 pm
  5. 23 March 2018 at 8:01 am

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