John Banks resignation statement

Just after the news broke that John Banks would resign from Parliament he posted a statement on his Facebook page.

John Banks to resign from Parliament.

“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” Mr Banks said.

“I will write to the Speaker tomorrow advising him of my resignation said Mr Banks.

“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” said Mr Banks.

Should Banks be convicted and should he resign?

In the John Banks case summary Justice Edwin Wylie said it was “reasonable to infer that Mr Banks requested that the donation be split so they did not stand out and so that the donations would be consistent with other donations of $25,000 that his campaign team was endeavouring to solicit”.

That seems a reasonable inference.

It’s not uncommon for politicians and parties to arrange donations and hide sources by a variety of means. Banks has been judged guilty of doing this illegally.

Banks is unlucky in that his case was pursued and prosecuted. Many complaints, including from the last two elections, disappear into a police black hole.

Labour leader David Cunliffe was found to have breach electoral law during the Christchurch East by-election but no action was taken.

It might be relatively tough on Banks but taking a legal dim view of electoral abuse has to start somewhere, with someone.

So I think a conviction for Banks would be in the interests of the greater good for our electoral system.

Banks can remain in Parliament unless/until he is convicted. That will be in August at the earliest. Unlike what some politicians are claiming and intimating no one can make him resign.

But for the greater good of Parliament (and probably the ACT Party) I think Banks should resign from Parliament.

Over the years I’ve not been a fan of Banks. I’ve heard him speak in person and met him once, last year at an ACT regional conference, and he came across well, as decent and genuine.

But he has erred with his electoral return, and he hasn’t handled the scrutiny of that well, nor has he handled his dealings with Kim Dotcom well.

I wouldn’t be surprised that Banks assesses his current situation and decides to resign. I think that would be a wise and correct decision.

Little to gloat about the Banks verdict

It’s a sad situation.  I think any very public political fall from grace is sad, regardless of the circumstances. The degree of scrutiny and level of criticism is always magnified.

It should be magnified to an extent for our elected representatives but I find the degree of scorn, criticism and gloating is a poor reflection on human behaviour. I find the glee with which many people like to stick the boot in is distasteful.

The cheering in some political circles is predictable, that’s what some want, to destroy the careers of opponents. They see this as a major victory. I think the whole circus is a defeat for decent democracy.

Graham McCready, the person responsible for the prosecution, was “ecstatic” over the verdict. He sung a smug song outside the court. That made it look like it was far more vindictive than noble of him in his pursuit of Banks.

I think Banks deserves some criticism and I have no reason to doubt the judge’s decision. I don’t know if it was a sound decision in a legal sense but there has to be a fairly high chance Banks was aware of the donations. It seems he sought donations from Dotcom and then turned a blind eye to the paperwork.

How many politicians have done this? A number of systems of separation have been used to keep an appearance of distance between politicians and the money they need to campaign with.

It’s really a difficult balance to achieve, especially for sole politicians who don’t have party organisations to do the fundraising for them. Even then I expect that rich donors will often like to speak to the person at the top, to get some sort of high level association in return for their generosity.

But it looks like Banks was not careful enough. And he got caught out, first by a political opposition who wanted a Government scalp at any cost, and then be a tenacious individual with questionable motives, especially when you see his reaction to success.

McCready looked like he was gleefully dancing on Banks’ political grave.

Surprisingly Banks himself looked more dignified than despondent after the verdict. He has looked like he has struggled early in this debacle but seemed to be well prepared for yesterday’s outcome.

Banks has been caught out and found guilty for sloppiness prior to returning as an MP and in action of little consequence, he had already lost the mayoralty contest when he fudged his electoral return.

Is Banks the only politician who has fiddled his paperwork on donations? His opponent Len Brown seems to have been smarter in the way he has disguised his donations. David Cunliffe was embarrassed by the use of a trust to officially separate himself from his donors. John Key is often involved in party fundraising events but claims to have nothing to do with the money handling.

Politicians and parties need money to survive and succeed.

Banks got caught out but the system didn’t make it easy for him, or the other politicians who secretly seek funds.

Banks didn’t help his case by the way he dealt with it when the political blowtorch was applied. When opponents sense a misstep or a weakness they dig deeper and try to hit harder with the shit shovel. This time they scored a victim.

It’s an ignominious end to another phase in the political careers of Banks. It will be awkward for John Key and National for the next two or three months.

It also taints the ACT Party even though they had nothing to do with the offence, Banks wasn’t even a party member at the time. But it has already forced ACT to re-invent itself and select a new Epsom candidate and also a new party leader.

It looks bad and is bad for Banks. Is it a fair and justified outcome? I don’t know. The ‘crime’ seems quite trivial and inconsequential to me, so the repercussions seem somewhat out of proportion.

This is politics, and it can be a vicious and uncompromising arena.

The parliamentary career of of Banks will fade away in some degree of disgrace mixed with misfortune in being the one who was found out and taken to task.

But this adds to the shoddy reputation of politicians. Although the offence had nothing to do with Parliament it has further dirtied the appearance of our top house of ill repute. And the blood isn’t just on Banks’ political floor, it’s on a number of hands and taints the whole house.

Banks. Key. Peters. Robertson. McCready.

All of them look worse for this exercise in political targeting and evasion.

Banks is ultimately responsible, but he is not the only one to have been hurt by this.

A decent democracy dashed and trashed. Again.

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

John Banks after he left court today:

There’s a wonderful 1930’s song “Onto every life some rain must fall”. And for me the rain’s still falling.

We were hoping it would become a very sunny day. We are disappointed with the verdict. We are surprised with the result.

Presumably this refers to “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall“, a 1944 song performed as a duet by The Ink Spots, featuring Bill Kenny and Ella Fitzgerald (Wikipedia).

Into each life some rain must fall
But too much is falling in mine
Into each heart some tears must fall
But some day the sun will shine

Some folks can lose the blues in their hearts
But when I think of you another shower starts
Into each life some rain must fall
But too much is falling in mine

Ombudsman – withholding Banks’ full statement to Police “was not justified”

The Ombusdman has recommended that a reacted version of John Banks’ statement to police is given to NZ Herald and Labour – after the current court proceedings have concluded.

In relation to requests by NZ Herald (David Fisher) and Labour (Kate Challis) for a copy of the statement provided by the Hon John Banks to the Police in the course of their investigation into alleged irregularities in respect of electoral funding donations the Ombudsman has ruled:

I have formed the opinion that in September and October 2012 the Police had good reason to refuse parts of the statement under those provisions but that the decision to withhold the statement in full was not justified.

He has recommended “that the Police release a redacted statement to the requesters once the related court proceedings against Mr Banks have concluded.”

So that won’t have any immediate effect, it will have to wait until the current court proceedings are complete.

Ombudsman’s role:

As an Ombudsman, I am authorised to investigate and review, on complaint, any decision by which a Minister or agency subject to the OIA refuses to make official information available when requested. My role in undertaking an investigation is to form an independent opinion as to whether the request was properly refused.

Summary

David Fisher of The New Zealand Herald and Kate Challis of the Office of the Labour Leader requested a copy of the statement provided by the Hon John Banks to the Police in the course of their investigation into alleged irregularities in respect of electoral funding donations.

The allegations pertained to the 2010 Auckland Super City Mayoral election in which Mr Banks was a candidate for the mayoralty. The statement was withheld pursuant to sections 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(ba) of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). I have formed the opinion that in September and October
2012 the Police had good reason to refuse parts of the statement under those provisions but that the decision to withhold the statement in full was not justified. 

Ombudsman’s opinion and recommendation

49. For the reasons set out above, I have formed the opinion that in September and October 2012 the Police had good reason to withhold parts of Mr Banks’ statement under sections 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(ba)(ii) of the OIA, but the decision to withhold the statement in full was not justified.

50. I recommend that the Police release a redacted statement to the requesters once the related court proceedings against Mr Banks have concluded. I have stipulated that the release be delayed because although I consider the OIA did not provide good reason to withhold the majority of the statement at the time the Police made its decision on the requests, in light of subsequent events, disclosure at the present time would be likely to prejudice Mr Banks’ right to a fair trial (section 6(c) of the OIA). Accordingly, a recommendation to disclose before the conclusion of the pending court proceedings would be c ontrary to one of the purposes of the OIA which is “to protect official information to the extent consistent with the public interest …” (section 4(c) of the OIA).

Full report (PDF).

John Banks on poverty, unconditional love and education

In Parliament’s first day for the year John Key made his Prime Minister’s Statement followed by party leaders launching their parliamentary year.

The best was from John Banks, who, in response to a read speech by Hone Harawira targeting inequality and poverty, gave an impassioned and often very personal view on how he thinks we need to deal with poverty.

I don’t know what Banks may have prepared to speak on, but he responded strongly and passionately to Harawira. It was eloquent and obviously heartfelt.

I know a lot about child poverty.

I know what it is like to live in a house with no power and no running water; having a bath once a week in a 44-gallon drum cut in half; sleeping on straw covered with sacks; going to bed every night hungry; piddling the bed every night, psychologically disturbed; being thrashed every morning for piddling the bed every night; going to school every day in an ex-army uniform with no shoes; spending all day, every day, out of the classroom stealing other kids’ lunches; going home to bread and milk, at best, at night, cooked over an open fire with sugar on top; if I am very lucky, taking Weet-bix covered in dripping to school each day; and living in a very dark hole.

That is child poverty.

If I thought that the policies of the previous speaker from the Tai Tokerau would work against that—and they do exist; they do exist—I would go to the other side of the House and support him. I would be the first to line up to support him.

Why would I not be the first to line up to support Hone Harawira if he had the answers to this country’s deep, deep vein of underprivilege, desperation, desolation, and despair that so many of our kids live under? If I thought that his policies were the answer, I would line up with him and I would say so.

But let me give him one ticket out of child poverty that he might like to think about. That one ticket is twofold: living in a home with unconditional love—and I never knew about that—and a world-class education. I did get that.

If every one of his people lived in a home with unconditional love and access to a world-class education, then in a generation we would get rid of the deep vein of social deprivation and child poverty in this country.

That is the ticket. That is the only ticket—not welfare, not big Governments, not more borrowing, and not more handouts.

It is instilling in people that having children is a God-given right but an awesome responsibility, that love goes a long, long way, and that a world-class education is a ticket to the future for so many of these people whom the previous speaker talked about and represents to the best of his ability in this House.

Banks’ answer:

The answer is giving everybody the opportunity of the dignity of work, and you can have a job only if you are educated. And you can get educated only if you go to school. And you can go to school only if you come from a home that loves you.

And the corollary to that is a dark place, and I know about living in dark places.

So if we want to deal with the fundamental issues of about 20 percent of this country’s young people coming from dysfunctional homes and families, we have to deal with the causes, not with the political side effects for the purposes of getting a few votes.

For context here is (edited) Harawira’s closing:

At the beginning of this new year, Mana stands resolute in our determination to find ways to eradicate poverty—particularly child poverty—wherever and however it may exist.

We will do all we can to ensure that this issue is the issue by which political parties are measured by voters in 2014.

Mana wants a new deal for Aotearoa—one based on everyone playing their part and everyone paying their way, not just families and big business as well—and an economy where everyone can live in dignity and respect, and where jobs are secure, hard work is rewarded, and people can earn enough to give their families a decent standard of living.

Mana is calling for homes for every Kiwi family—the building of 10,000 homes a year, especially for those on low incomes, until every child in every family is housed in a clean and warm home.

Mana wants jobs for all, and Government-created community work on an index minimum wage for everyone else who is able to work in hospitals, schools, old people’s homes, marae, sports clubs, local parks, and the like, giving people the opportunity to rebuild their confidence and develop basic work skills, while helping to revitalise their communities.

Mana also calls for taxing the rich to free the poor, introducing a Hone Heke tax on all financial transactions, adding billions to the national budget and enabling Government to launch positive jobs programmes, feed the kids, provide a well-resourced and positive educational environment at all levels, reduce taxes for low income earners, and abolish GST on food and essential services.

Mana’s position is clear. This is not a time for tinkering. This is a time to be bold, to chart a new path, and to establish a new deal, where a life of dignity and respect is a birth right afforded to everyone. We call on all of the parties to rise to the challenge rather than surrender to the squabbling.

Mana is closely associated with socialist movements in New Zealand, with a strong emphasis on taxing more (“the rich”) and transferring wealth, with the state heavily involved in job creation and spending. And spending.

I have never seen any attempt by Mana to cost their policy proposals.

Interestingly while Harawira frequently mentioned Mana (his party) Banks didn’t once refer to the Act Party. It was very personal for him.

Hone Harawira video:

John Banks video:

Full speeches (draft Hansard):

15:48:59~HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana)

HONE HARAWIRA (Leader—Mana): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker.

Seeing as the Prime Minister may have missed the fact that while he was up in Hawaii playing golf and his MPs were sizing up more investment properties to buy for the biggest untaxed capital gains they could get, most Kiwi families were actually going backwards.

Since Parliament last sat, housing has become even less affordable, more families have fallen behind in their rent, more families have been evicted, more families have shifted to caravan parks, the price of food and just about everything else has continued to rise, more jobs have become more precarious and more have become poorly paid, more food parcels have been given out at food banks, more families have had their electricity cut off because they cannot pay the bill, more children are in hospital with poverty related illnesses and diseases, and more children are regularly going hungry.

Big bank economists tell us we are about to benefit from a rock star economy in 2014 but that is rubbish. Everywhere in the world, the benefit of the economic recovery is going to the richest 1 percent while the 99 percent either stagnate or go backwards, and New Zealand is no exception.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer under a system where people strive to get as rich as they can and the winner is the person who has the most money when they die. How crazy is that? How does that make sense when kids go hungry because families have to pay the rent, the electricity, the petrol for the car, doctors’ bills, and medical bills before they can even afford to buy food for the kids?

But does this Government care? Not for one second. Take loan sharks, for example. Six years ago this Government said it wanted to deal to loan sharks for preying on poor families.

Well, what did it do? Nothing. Instead it bailed out the banks, wealthy investors, and companies like South Canterbury Finance, which got a $1.7 billion taxpayer windfall, which in one single gift to the rich was more than the entire 22 years of Treaty of Waitangi settlements, where iwi ended up with less than 3 percent of what was stolen from them.

Meanwhile, the victims of loan sharks are told they have to pay up to 500 plus percent interest rates so that a small loan to pay a power bill rapidly becomes a crippling debt to the loan sharks, with no bailouts for the poor.

Housing is the same. Everyone knows housing is becoming less affordable. Mortgages are through the roof, and as interest rates go up—it was in the paper this morning—so do rents. But this Government has no plans to create more affordable housing for low-income families who need them the most.

In Glen Innes and elsewhere, the Government is actually pushing people off the waiting list, then telling everybody that State houses are no longer needed, and then bulldozing those homes so private developers can build mansions for the rich. In education, the Government is also missing the mark.

Instead of ensuring that every child can learn by adopting a comprehensive food in schools programme, as recommended by its own experts, it is focusing on a failed charter schools model from overseas and drop-in principals.

We have all heard the drivel about how poverty has nothing to do with educational underachievement, but that is a refrain delivered only by those commentators who choose not to hear the advice and Governments who choose to ignore the inequality that is at the heart of increased social problems in low-income communities.

As for those jobs, Mr Key, are you happy that unemployment helps to keep wages down and to keep workers worrying that they might lose their jobs? Is it your plan that 260,000 workers cannot get a job or cannot get enough hours at work to pay for a decent chance in life for themselves and their families?

Is it your plan that this Government has no policy at all to create meaningful employment, except to leave the fate of the worker in the hands of the free market? Instead all we get is policy after policy, bill after bill, to take even more from low-income workers—employment rights, social support, tax dollars, and all of that—to feed oil and mining giants, property developers, foreign bankers, casino bosses, private consultants, and the like.

Families are struggling—Māori families, Pasifika families, and increasingly more Pākehā families—after decades of the deepest cuts this country has ever experienced. These cuts come from policies that have deliberately driven hundreds of thousands of families into poverty, policies that have led us to a direction that has been disastrous for all Kiwi families outside of the comfortable middle class and ruling elite, and a direction that has brought us to a critical crossroad in our lives.

There is growing inequality, homelessness, and unemployment, and a growing population of working poor who cannot even make ends meet.

At the end of the last year, the world mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela and celebrated his momentous life, but Mandela was not just an anti-apartheid campaigner. He was also a fighter for the poor who once said: “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” Mandela considered poverty to be one of the great evils of the world and believed there could be no freedom where poverty persists.

At the beginning of this new year, Mana stands resolute in our determination to find ways to eradicate poverty—particularly child poverty—wherever and however it may exist. We will do all we can to ensure that this issue is the issue by which political parties are measured by voters in 2014.

Mana wants a new deal for Aotearoa—one based on everyone playing their part and everyone paying their way, not just families and big business as well—and an economy where everyone can live in dignity and respect, and where jobs are secure, hard work is rewarded, and people can earn enough to give their families a decent standard of living.

Mana is calling for homes for every Kiwi family—the building of 10,000 homes a year, especially for those on low incomes, until every child in every family is housed in a clean and warm home. This will create thousands of jobs in design, architecture, carpentry, cabinet making, painting, roofing, electrical work, plumbing, drainlaying, landscaping, roading, community infrastructure, and all the related jobs that come with a strong and vibrant housing sector.

Mana will encourage immigrants to build new homes rather than buy existing ones to increase the jobs in the housing sector and to keep the current housing stock for kiwis and introduce a serious capital gains tax to force those with too many investment properties to sell back into the housing market, drive down the prices, and free up homes for those who can afford to buy but cannot find anything in the overheated market place.

Mana wants jobs for all, and Government-created community work on an index minimum wage for everyone else who is able to work in hospitals, schools, old people’s homes, marae, sports clubs, local parks, and the like, giving people the opportunity to rebuild their confidence and develop basic work skills, while helping to revitalise their communities.

Mana wants financing and mentoring for small business, because if you back small business owners, they commit to a future in this country, rather than leave, and their success encourages their families to do the same.

Mana also calls for taxing the rich to free the poor, introducing a Hone Heke tax on all financial transactions, adding billions to the national budget and enabling Government to launch positive jobs programmes, feed the kids, provide a well-resourced and positive educational environment at all levels, reduce taxes for low income earners, and abolish GST on food and essential services.

Of course, Mana also supports taking back the power. In today’s world, access to a consistent and affordable supply of electricity is a staple part of life for all New Zealanders. It was never envisioned that it be owned. Mana supports reclaiming all electricity assets for the benefit of all citizens of Aotearoa.

Mana’s position is clear. This is not a time for tinkering. This is a time to be bold, to chart a new path, and to establish a new deal, where a life of dignity and respect is a birth right afforded to everyone. We call on all of the parties to rise to the challenge rather than surrender to the squabbling. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora tātou katoa.

DEBATE ON PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT

15:58:44~Hon JOHN BANKS (Leader—ACT)

Hon JOHN BANKS (Leader—ACT): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. The seeds of my political philosophy lie in my background. I am not sure how much the previous member knows about child poverty.

I know a lot about child poverty. I know what it is like to live in a house with no power and no running water; having a bath once a week in a 44-gallon drum cut in half; sleeping on straw covered with sacks; going to bed every night hungry; piddling the bed every night, psychologically disturbed; being thrashed every morning for piddling the bed every night; going to school every day in an ex-army uniform with no shoes; spending all day, every day, out of the classroom stealing other kids’ lunches; going home to bread and milk, at best, at night, cooked over an open fire with sugar on top; if I am very lucky, taking Weet-bix covered in dripping to school each day; and living in a very dark hole.

That is child poverty.

If I thought that the policies of the previous speaker from the Tai Tokerau would work against that—and they do exist; they do exist—I would go to the other side of the House and support him. I would be the first to line up to support him.

Why would I not be the first to line up to support Hone Harawira if he had the answers to this country’s deep, deep vein of underprivilege, desperation, desolation, and despair that so many of our kids live under? If I thought that his policies were the answer, I would line up with him and I would say so.

But let me give him one ticket out of child poverty that he might like to think about. That one ticket is twofold: living in a home with unconditional love—and I never knew about that—and a world-class education. I did get that.

If every one of his people lived in a home with unconditional love and access to a world-class education, then in a generation we would get rid of the deep vein of social deprivation and child poverty in this country.

That is the ticket. That is the only ticket—not welfare, not big Governments, not more borrowing, and not more handouts. It is instilling in people that having children is a God-given right but an awesome responsibility, that love goes a long, long way, and that a world-class education is a ticket to the future for so many of these people whom the previous speaker talked about and represents to the best of his ability in this House. But he is misguided.

In a couple of weeks we are going to open the first charter school—they call it—in Northland. I do not mind whether they call it a charter school or whether they call them partnership schools, but this is what I can tell you.

The first partnership school in Whangarei will open in 2 weeks’ time. For the last 4 years it has taken 40 Māori boys and girls from the poorest, poorest families in the whole of the Tai Tokerau. It has boarded them in Whangarei and it has given them an opportunity to go to the best State schools in Whangarei, mostly Whangarei Boys High School, and after school they are tutored.

They get in that collective home unconditional love every day of the week and tutoring every night of the week.

They feel a sense of purpose and direction, and those young people sit National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) level 1 with a 100 percent pass rate, I say to the Minister of Finance, a 100 percent pass rate in that partnership school in Whangarei for the last 4 years, a 100 percent pass rate in NCEA level 1 in Whangarei with Māori boys who come from places that the previous speaker represents and knows nothing about and has a doctrine he peddles in this House that is bankrupt—more borrowing, more welfare, less responsibility. He does it because he thinks there are votes in it.

There are no votes in representing people who have no hope, and that member will not get up on his hind legs and say to this House: “I’m going to support the partnership school that has served my mokopuna in Tai Tokerau for so, so long.”

That member and the Labour Party have promised to close down that school, which gets a 100 percent—100 percent—pass rate in NCEA level 1. That is the ticket out of deprivation.

That is the only way, the one-way street, the only way out of poverty in this country. It will take a generation, but this is what this Government is working on. It stands for bringing those people up. It is like high tides raising all boats. Lift the standards at the bottom and the high tide will rise and raise more boats—all boats.

We have tried throwing money. We have tried borrowing money. We have tried big welfare. And what we do know is that any Government big enough to give you everything you want is a Government big enough to take from the hard workers everything they have.

So if we want to deal with the deep vein of social deprivation—and I do because I know what it is like, and it is a dark place, a very dark place—then we have to deal with the fundamentals of human behaviour: taking responsibility for your family, giving them unconditional love regardless of your status and your wealth, taking advantage of a world-class education that is there for you at the school down the street, and encouraging young people to do that.

It will be a generation but it will lift them out. If we want to empty the jails, we have got to educate the young people. If we want to get the health lists down, we have got to teach young people what it is like to be in charge of yourself and take responsibility for your own actions. Then we will make progress.

But borrowing from the savings of offshore people to hand out to others in a country and mounting up the debt to the next generation is not the way we deal with poverty in this country.

Of course I support sandwiches and food in schools—by God I would have loved some sandwiches and some food in school—but that is not the answer.

The answer is getting the fundamentals of the New Zealand economy so that we are internationally competitive.

I pay tribute to Bill English, whom I have worked with closely these last 2 years, who has done a remarkable job of turning this economy round. I give praise to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the National Party caucus—my coalition partners—for taking tough decisions, but the answer to child poverty, I say to the parliamentary Opposition, is not about taking others’ money and throwing it at a problem, because we have tried that and it has failed.

The answer is education.

The answer is giving everybody the opportunity of the dignity of work, and you can have a job only if you are educated. And you can get educated only if you go to school. And you can go to school only if you come from a home that loves you. And the corollary to that is a dark place, and I know about living in dark places.

So if we want to deal with the fundamental issues of about 20 percent of this country’s young people coming from dysfunctional homes and families, we have to deal with the causes, not with the political side effects for the purposes of getting a few votes.

 

 

Can Hide save Act?

Now it’s official that John Banks won’t stand again next year Act can be open about seeking someone capable of winning Epsom and rebuilding Act in Parliament.

Inevitably Rodney Hide is one of the first to be touted. He has recent experience in both Epsom and Parliament and would be the person most likely to succeed. If he is willing. Backed by a background John Boscawen he would give Act supporters real hope – and he would also give John Key hope that there was a realistic chance of retaining a right wing partner.

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide’s fans keen for a comeback after Banks’ departure

Former Act leader Rodney Hide is being courted by supporters in the party to make a comeback in Epsom to replace outgoing leader John Banks, the Herald understands.

Several sources told the Herald Mr Hide had been approached recently and urged to consider a return to Act and to national politics.

One insider said Mr Hide would be nominated by Epsom party members whether he liked it or not. Mr Hide did not return calls yesterday.

It would be extremely difficult for a political novice to lead a party, campaign in and win an electorate, and establish themselves in Parliament. Banks succeeded in Epsom but after a decade’s absence and no colleagues to work with he found it very hard in Parliament. It didn’t help that he was not a yellow blooded Actoid.

Rodney Hide is certainly Act’s best hope for survival. If he can’t be persuaded to return to national politics Act will find it very difficult to keep a toe in Parliament’s door. They might find someone else with enough profile and ability to pull off Epsom but that’s only the first step to recovery.

Interestingly on Firstline this morning John Boscawen was asked if he would have another go and he avoided the question, talking around it.

“I made the decision prior to the last election not to seek re-election in 2011, and that wasn’t a decision that I regretted.”

Hide backed by Boscawen would have immediate respect and a decent chance of success.

Brown roundup

The Len Brown story continues to get a lot of coverage as the clusterfuck continues, it’s hard to see anyone involved coming out of this with reputation’s intact. And to accentuate the Auckland falls from grace ex-mayor and now Act MP John Banks adds to the super city malaise.

NZ Herald leads this morning with a ‘revelation’ of what is unsurprising.

Palino met with Brown’s lover

John Palino met Len Brown’s former mistress for a late-night discussion in a Mission Bay car park the night after the mayoral election and just two days before the affair was made public.

Bevan Chuang claims Mr Palino’s camp raised the possibility that Mr Brown could be shamed into resigning the mayoralty.

When news of the scandal broke on Tuesday, Mr Palino denied any knowledge of the affair. But he met Ms Chuang on Sunday, October 13 – the day after the election.

Also unsurprising:

Last night, Mr Palino’s campaign manager, John Slater, confirmed a meeting had taken place, but said it was just a “general chit-chat”.

It would have been unusual if Palino had not been had some involvement and Slater (senior) did not know something about what was going on.

Herald opinion writers wade in as well.

John Armstrong:

Brown’s mea culpa absolutely woeful

For his part, Brown is surely now ensconced in Last Chance Saloon and just one step removed from being forced to resign.

Should one further Brown-instigated or approved favour to former paramour Bevan Chuang, which has an Auckland Council connection, emerge from the woodwork then he has to go.

Brian Edwards:

That mayor culpa had better be all, Len

Len Brown is in something more than a bit of trouble, and I’d give him the same advice Mike gave to me.

Faced with this immediate crisis, however, the Auckland mayor’s only option was to be straightforward, tell the truth and admit the error of his ways.

It seems to me that’s more or less what he’s done. But the “more or less” may be the sticking point.

In a crisis like this, involving personal morality, “more or less the truth” wasn’t enough; it had to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Further revelations will pile pressure upon pressure for Brown. He may cling to his coveted mayoralty but diminishing credibility will make it very difficult to do a decent job.

Fran O’Sullivan:

Two men with their backs against wall

Brown’s instinct is to hunker down and try to ride out the media storm.

He is being helped by the drip-feed of revelations about the role his former lover’s buddies in the Palino camp played in his outing.

These revelations have made Brown a figure of fun. But there is also a sinister element to them. Particularly the pressure which Bevan Chuang claims was put on her by Palino’s PR man (one of her other lovers) to try and get her to entrap Brown in making “dirty talk” on the phone.

There should be a proper wide-ranging council inquiry into whether Brown abused rules by creating favours for Chuang.

Not simply an inquiry put in place by the chief executive.

Once the inquiry reports, Brown should stand down and call for another election where voters can either accept him or reject him in the knowledge they have all facts on the table.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff):

Brown-Chuang affair has MPs wary

Like a nuclear mushroom cloud, the toxic fallout from the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang affair is enveloping everyone within its radius.

No-one will come out of this kiss-and-tell well – not the mayor, his former mistress, those who broke the story on the Whale Oil blog or the mayoral rival who has now also been damaged by the actions of an over-ambitious supporter.

Blogs continue very active comments. There will no doubt be more on Whale Oil today (access can be patchy).

Also with ongoing discussions:

Public Address: Hard News: Everybody’s Machiavelli

Kiwiblog: Nasty Rudman

The Standard:

Whale Oil responds including major but vague allegations and a promise of more to come – Rapid Fire Q+A on Len Brown story

Rob Hosking at NBR: Len Brown and the value proposition theory of political scandal

Key fails to understand Ministers’ complaints

John Key is reported to be “puzzled” by concerns expressed by ministers about their phone calls and emails being trawled by the Henry inquiry.  Radio New Zealand report:

The Prime Minister is puzzled about why any of his ministers feel the need to complain about the way their information was handled by the Henry inquiry.

A number of ministers expressed disquiet over the way some of their information was handled.But Mr Key questioned why any minister would be worried, because being trusted not to leak to the media is the least he expects from his executive.

Having an inquiry that complies with the law and parliamentary conventions, and that doesn’t make accusations that leads to a minister resigning despite presenting no evidence is the least his Ministers should expect from Key.

Key has previously said that no Ministers complained to him about the terms of the inquiry when they became known.

What Key fails to understand is that when he announced the terms of the inquiry no Ministers (except possibly one) would have suspected that it would involve their own communications being examined. And they wouldn’t have suspected a witch-hunt.

Unlike Key some Ministers are aghast at the way the inquiry seemed to make a conclusion of guilt based on very questionable reasoning, and then pursue evidence without having any regard for the legality of the data gathering  or whether it complied with Parliamentary rules and conventions.

ODT reports Leak inquiry ‘chilling’ – Collins.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says it was “chilling” to discover that the David Henry inquiry into the GCSB report leak had treated the privacy of ministers’ and staff information in a “contemptuous way”.

Police Minister Anne Tolley told Mr Henry she was surprised that Mr Henry did not seek the advice of Speaker David Carter to clarify rules about parliamentary privilege.

“With 20-20 hindsight that might have been a wise thing to do,” Mr Henry said but he had assumed that Parliamentary Service, which reported to the Speaker, knew the rules.

Act leader John Banks suggested during his line of questioning that the Henry inquiry had “trampled on the rights and freedoms of Members of Parliament and the fourth estate in a very cavalier manner.”

Worse than trampling on the rights of Ministers in a cavalier and contemptuous way, many are aghast that the inquiry would smear a journalist and the leader of a party with innuendo, and would effectively make very obvious accusations against a minister without having any evidence to back up it’s case.

Stuff with Collins slams ‘contemptuous’ attitude over emails:

Gerry Brownlee said it appeared Mr Dunne had been denied natural justice, by relying on his privilege as an MP but facing a report which criticised him.

The Henry inquiry seemed to decide guilt early in their inquiry based on nothing of substance, and then set about trying to obtain evidence that backed up their guess while ignoring any other possibility.

It’s easy to see why Ministers would have major concerns in retrospect.

It is Key’s apparent blindness to this that is puzzling.

John Banks’ amendment – principles underpinning GCSB functions

An amendment initiated by John Banks adds human rights requirements plus democratic and political oversight to the GCSB Bill.

8CA Principles underpinning performance of Bureau’s functions

(1) In performing its functions under this Act, the Bureau acts—

(a) in accordance with New Zealand law and all human rights standards recognised by New Zealand law, except to the extent that they are, in relation to national security, modified by an enactment:
(b) in the discharge of its operational functions, independently and impartially:
(c) with integrity and professionalism:
(d) in a manner that facilitates effective democratic oversight.

(3) The Director must take all reasonable steps to ensure that—

(a) the activities of the Bureau are limited to those that are relevant to the discharge of its functions:
(b) the Bureau is kept free from any influence or consideration that is not relevant to its functions:
(c) the Bureau does not take any action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party in New Zealand.

(4) The Director must consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition for the purpose of keeping him or her informed about matters relating to the Bureau’s functions under sections 8A to 8C..

3 (c) and 4 provide for limits to the GCSB being used politically and provides for consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

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