Having slept on the Banks decision, here's some slightly more ordered thoughts on the matter.

Before I run to catch a plane, I thought I'd post a few more reactions to Banks' trial and the outcome. Boy, did I pick a bad time to decide to fly!

First, as indicated in my last post on the topic, I was quite surprised at the result. I thought there was enough confusion around Banks' actions and state of knowledge regarding both sets of donations that there was "reasonable doubt" whether he'd committed the relevant offence. But skim reading the judgment, it seems that the Judge had the advantage of seeing the various witnesses in the flesh and was able to determine that (not to put to fine a point on it) Banks' account of how the Dotcom donations came to be given and what he knew about them was a load of hoaky. That's why we have judges, and Banks chose to have a judge alone assess his (and others') credibility, so he really can't have any sort of complaint about the result.

Second, I'm conflicted about how outraged I should be at Banks' actions. Yes, Banks is guilty of deliberately trying to hide from the world the identity of donors to his campaign that (for whatever reason) he thought might prove embarrasing down the track. This is a bad thing for politicians at any level to do. However, Banks' opponent at the relevant mayoral election was also busy hiding from the world the identity of those who funded his campaign ... he just did it more cleverly by utilising a trust as a conduit. So is the real issue here that Banks just didn't obey the letter rather than the spirit of the law?

Third, John Key's ongoing claim that he's always found Banks to be honest and straightforward is a bit beside the point. A court has just ruled that beyond reasonable doubt Banks knowingly filed a false electoral return - an offence so serious that you can go to jail for 2 years and deems you unfit to sit as an MP. So Key's personal experiences with Mr Banks are a bit beside the point - he's kind of like those neighbours of a murderer who always get interviewed saying "he always seemed like such a nice, gentle guy who always waved to us on his way to work."

Fourth, it is true that Banks only has to leave Parliament if he gets convicted of the offence he is guilty of (conviction and guilt are not the same thing). But I really, really hope he doesn't get discharged without conviction - New Zealand has a terrible record of pursuing and punishing electoral offences (the police still haven't actioned a bunch of complaints from the last election campaign!), and so to (effectively) let off an MP for breaching electoral law would reinforce the message that these sorts of rules really don't matter. Furthermore, the honourable thing for Banks to do would be to resign now ... it's a bad look for Parliament as an institution to have an MP guilty of an offence that should see him thrown out hanging on in the hope that a court will spare him that indignity. By all means Banks should carry on trying to clear his name with appeals and the like, but he won't be doing the institution any favours if he insists on his right to remain.

OK - gotta run. Blogging will be intermittent for the next month. You'll just have to learn to get along without me.

Comments (11)

by Katharine Moody on June 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

In case you get a chance - here's Act Party leader's comment on it:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2598638

by Katharine Moody on June 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

And now.. John Key is confused about who is leading his coalition partner's party;

"In the end he [Banks] is the leader of another political party.

"I can't offer him advice any more than I could offer David Cunliffe advice on whether he should resign."

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10127511/PM-ducks-Banks-questions

 

by BeShakey on June 06, 2014
BeShakey

To be fair, Banks is the leader of the parliamentary wing of the ACT party.

On the other hand, Key frequently offers Cunliffe advice and appears as an independent commentator on political events on the television and in the papers. So there isn't any real reason why he can't comment now.

by Katharine Moody on June 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

Ah, true, that he is .. and he is still drawing the associated salary as well :-). I wonder what the party's constitution says about this - whether Jamie and the executive arm of the party have any say in potentially removing their parliamentary wing leader?

by Katharine Moody on June 06, 2014
Katharine Moody

ACT Party constitution;

http://www.act.org.nz/files/Constitution%20May%202010_0.pdf

for anyone interested!

by Rich on June 07, 2014
Rich

Given Banks is the *only* ACT MP, he has to be caucus leader by default. To get rid of him, they'd basically have to dissolve the ACT caucus-of-one.

by Katharine Moody on June 07, 2014
Katharine Moody

The Act Party Board could decide to terminate his membership (under clause 5.3 as in the doc above).  

by william blake on June 08, 2014
william blake

There seems to be a minimisation of  John Banks' actions (Boag,Espiner Sst.) by the argument that everybody is doing it and Banks just got caught by the crazy litigant. This has some merit except for the kaupapa of the Act party being so fervently against dishonesty (3 strikes etc.). These policies seem to be a corollary of the widening gap promoted and maintained by their core liberal monetarist ideals, requiring extra protection from the 'have nots'. So the sitting Act MP should embody these policies as an example to the hoipoloi. There should be a higher level of accountability for the people who make the law.

When Banks resigns, as he surely must, the Epsom  by election will also focus the nation  on the 'coat tail' deal making. It will be interesting to see if the PM  has the guts to go through the pantomime again with the background of murkiness. Bit of a teser for John Key, consign Act to oblivion or look like a shady deal maker eight weeks fro the election.

by Penny Bright on June 08, 2014
Penny Bright

FYI

An 'Open Letter' from Graham McCready to John Banks (sent 7 June 2014):
__________________________________________________________________

TO John Banks Copy the Rest of New Zealand

Dear John,

I can understand the situation you find yourself in having been in the same situation myself.

From this personal experience I can tell you that you are at serious risk of receiving a jail term of about 18-months.

His Honour has given you the opportunity to qualify for Home Detention.
The term is likely to be about six months.
He is NOT going to consider a discharge without conviction.
That is a delusional fantasy.
If David Jones QC continues to suggest the possibility my advice is to sack him and file a complaint with the Law Society on the basis of gross incompetence.

See my attached missive on the process.
If you get home detention your overseas travel will suffer minimal disruption.
Any jail term of one year or more and the Inter Islander Ferry may be about your limit.

How then do you ensure you stay out of jail?

Accept responsibility for your actions.

Immediately as part of acceptance resign from Parliament.

Do not dance on the head of a pin before the Probation Officer on the difference between "Found Guilty of an Indictable Criminal Offence" and "A Conviction being entered".

On Monday YOU contact the Probation Service.
Do not let your clown of a lawyer do it or wait for a Probation Officer to phone you.

COOPERATE with them. BE VERY HUMBLE

Tell them you have royally screwed up and that you are unconditionally guilty.

Do a press conference and make an unreserved apology to the People of New Zealand for your conduct.
Back that up by a huge donation to low decile schools.
Do not say which ones or how much.
That will not get you off but it will be spiritually uplifting

Tell them you will not be appealing the verdict.

DO NOT ATTACK OTHER PERSONS INVOLVED IN THE CASE.

Assure the Probation Officer that you will comply with all instructions and conditions of Home Detention no matter how tedious. And they will be tedious.

Treat the Probation Officer with respect.
Do not make racial or serious remarks.
You may find your Probation Officer is a young female Criminology Grad less than half you age.

The Probation Service will need to approve your apartment for Home Detention.
From my experience it is probably not suitable.
The reason is that a Probation Officer or Security Guard cannot walk up to the front door 24-hours a day because of the building security.
Tomorrow rent a VERY MODEST house with walk up to the front door.
Talk to the Probation Service about this.

Finally welcome to the Human Race.
We are not bad people who will become good, just human beings who do good and bad things at various times of our lives.

This too will pass.

Wishing you all the health, happiness and success I enjoy for myself one day at a time.

Kindest Regards

Graham Mc Cready

by Ross on June 09, 2014
Ross

He is NOT going to consider a discharge without conviction. That is a delusional fantasy.

Is this wishful thinking on the part of McCready? I suspect so.

Anyway, Banks has resigned as an MP.

by BeShakey on June 10, 2014
BeShakey

The judge asked for a report on home detention, and he can only order home detention when he would otherwise have given a prison sentence of up to two years. Given that, it seems 'a delusional fantasy' to think the judge could move from thinking that home detention/a short prison sentence is warrented, to believing that a conviction in and of itself would be "out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence" [the requirement from the Sentencing Act].

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