John Banks (New Zealand politician)
John Archibald Banks
|Leader of ACT New Zealand|
16 February 2012 – 1 March 2014
|Preceded by||Don Brash|
|Succeeded by||Jamie Whyte|
|38th Mayor of Auckland City|
2007 – 31 October 2010
|Preceded by||Dick Hubbard|
|Preceded by||Christine Fletcher|
|Succeeded by||Dick Hubbard|
|Minister of Police|
|Prime Minister||Jim Bolger|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
1981 – 1999
|Preceded by||John Gordon Elliott|
|Succeeded by||Philip Heatley|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
December 12, 2011 – June 8, 2014
|Preceded by||Rodney Hide|
|Minister for Small Business|
12 December 2011 – October 2013
|Prime Minister||John Key|
|Preceded by||Maurice Williamson|
|Succeeded by||Steven Joyce|
|Minister for Regulatory Reform|
12 December 2011 – October 2013
|Prime Minister||John Key|
|Preceded by||Rodney Hide|
|Succeeded by||Bill English|
2 December 1946 |
Wellington, New Zealand
|Political party||ACT New Zealand|
|National Party (until 2011)|
John Archibald Banks, CNZM, QSO (born 2 December 1946) is a New Zealand politician. He was a member of Parliament for the National Party from 1981 to 1999, and for ACT New Zealand from 2011 to 2014. He was a Cabinet Minister from 1990 to 1996 and 2011 to 2013. His Parliamentary career was ended by a conviction for filing a false electoral return, which he has appealed.
In between his times in Parliament he served as Mayor of Auckland City for two terms, from 2001 to 2004, and from 2007 to 2010. When seven former smaller councils were combined into one to run the Auckland 'supercity', Banks unsuccessfully ran for mayor again. The electoral return that he filed after that campaign, detailing donations received and campaign expenses, was found to be false in a 2014 court case.
He resigned as a Minister when charges were brought against him in 2013, and as an MP days after being found guilty in June 2014. The conviction was entered on 1 August, rendering him unable to stand for Parliament again. Banks has appealed the case to the Court of Appeal.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Before politics
- 3 Member of Parliament
- 4 Mayor of Auckland City
- 5 Return to Parliament
- 6 False electoral return
- 7 Personal life
- 8 References
- 9 Biographies
- 10 External links
Banks was born in Wellington in 1946. When he was a young child, his parents Archie and Kitty were imprisoned for procuring abortions. His father was a career criminal and his mother an alcoholic. From the age of two he was raised by an aunt and uncle, alongside "many foster children". When John was 14, Archie was released from prison. They moved to Auckland and John attended Avondale College.
He grew up in poverty. In a 2014 speech to Parliament he recalled "going to school every day in an ex-army uniform with no shoes; [...] 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 WeetBix covered in dripping to school each day; and living in a very dark hole. That is child poverty."
In his career before entering politics, Banks worked as a market researcher in the pharmaceutical industry, as a commercial property developer, and as a restaurant owner. He served for a time as Chairman of the New Zealand Licensed Restaurant and Cabaret Association.
Member of Parliament
|Parliament of New Zealand|
In the 1978 general election, Banks stood as the National Party candidate for the Roskill electorate, but was unsuccessful. In the 1981 election, he stood in a different seat, Whangarei, and won. He would retain this seat for the remainder of his parliamentary career with the National Party.
When National won the 1990 elections, Banks entered Cabinet, becoming Minister of Police, Minister of Tourism, and Minister of Sport.
While Minister of Police, he was fined $750 for answering his cell phone on a commercial flight in 1991.
Banks gained a position as the host of a talkback radio programme on Radio Pacific in August 1992, taking over the Sunday afternoon timeslot from former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon, for whom he had occasionally substituted during 1991 and 1992. In 1995, his fellow National Party Member of Parliament John Carter rang his programme impersonating a workshy Māori called Hone, which caused widespread offence.
Mayor of Auckland City
First term 2001–2004
In 2001, he contested and won the Auckland City mayoralty, defeating the incumbent Christine Fletcher (herself also a former National MP). Banks remained controversial in his new role, although often regarding financial and management issues rather than social policy. He governed with the support of the traditional incumbent ticket at Auckland City, Citizens and Ratepayers Now. Banks brought in a streamlined decision making process at council, kept spending increases within inflation, sold half of the Auckland International Airport shares to pay off Auckland City's increasing debt, and proposed massive transport projects such as the Eastern Transport Corridor. Banks' personal style, coupled with his mayoral agenda, polarised many Aucklanders. In 2001 he was caught speeding on a jet ski close to the beach, not long after criticising boy racers. He also said Asian immigrants had filthy habits such as spitting on footpaths.
A serious challenge to his mayoralty came from philanthropic cereal-maker Dick Hubbard in late August 2004. Six weeks out from the next election, a New Zealand Herald public opinion poll gave Hubbard 32.2 per cent and Banks 27.3 per cent support, with Christine Fletcher trailing by a wide gap.
The mayoral campaign gained notoriety as one of the "nastiest" and hardest-fought in memory. In September 2004, Banks's campaign manager, Brian Nicolle, resigned amidst allegations of "gutter politics" after he ordered distribution of copies of a National Business Review article highly critical of Hubbard to hundreds of letterboxes in Auckland, and then proceeded to deny it. Nicolle eventually confirmed he ordered the article distribution. This was done without the authorisation of Banks as the candidate, which helped make the story even more controversial during the campaign.
On 9 October 2004, Hubbard was elected as Mayor of Auckland. In early interviews after his election loss, Banks stated that he would look after his varied business interests, both in New Zealand and Australia.
Post 2004 election
For a time, rumours suggested that he might return to national politics, standing as a candidate either for the National Party or ACT New Zealand. Several meetings took place between Banks and senior ACT members. In the end, however, Banks declined to become an ACT candidate.
Re-election in 2007
In October 2006, Banks announced he was giving serious consideration to standing for the Auckland Mayoralty again. He indicated that if he did become Mayor again, he would practise a more inclusive style of leadership with a firmer focus on financial matters. He has indicated qualified support for the proposed 2007 "Hero Parade", which was an annual gay parade held in the 1990s prior to his becoming Mayor. Banks ditched the controversial Eastern Corridor proposal that caused a split in his voting base.
In July 2007 Banks announced his intention to stand for Mayor in the October 2007 local body election, running on a platform of "affordable progress" and transparency in council meetings. Polls soon showed him in a clear lead. Banks campaigned heavily on platforms of affordable progress, plus openness and accountability, particularly in regard to Auckland City's leaky homes crisis.
On 13 October 2007, Banks was re-elected as mayor of Auckland, becoming only the second Mayor in Auckland City's history to have come back to the Mayoralty after defeat, the other being Dove-Myer Robinson in 1968.
Second term 2007–2010
|This section requires expansion. (July 2010)|
Upon his successful re-election, Banks indicated a number of initial changes and spending cuts in order to meet his goal of keeping future rates increases at affordable levels. Banks and the Citizens and Ratepayers council majority re-introduced a streamlined council structure, bringing in five super-committees instead of the previous 14 committees.
Banks has also campaigned on job creation and economic development initiatives, such as a film friendly policy for Auckland, to attract television, movie and commercial filming. The benefits of the film industry was reported as almost $900 million in GDP activity for Auckland region.
His personality, especially during his first mayoral term, has been called that of a bully, "raised by Sir Robert Muldoon in the ways of the bear pit". However, it has been commented that his leadership style became much less brusque and confrontative in his second term, something he himself ascribes to the "long, cold shower" he received in being defeated by political newcomer Dick Hubbard in the 2004 elections.
Banks supported the creation of a unitary authority or a "supercity". After the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended and the Government confirmed it would introduce a single council for the Auckland region, Banks stood in the 2010 Auckland mayoral election for the new Auckland Council. Banks has been critical of some of the aspects of the new supercity, favouring increased powers to the local boards that would represent people at the grassroots level.
Banks was unsuccessful, with Len Brown elected the first "supercity" mayor. Brown's margin over Banks was more than 65,000 votes. Bank's declaration of "anonymous" donations to his mayoral campaign, when he knew that they had been made by Kim Dotcom, led to him being found guilty in 2014 of filing a false electoral return.
Return to Parliament
On 18 May 2011, Mr Banks moved back to national politics by joining the ACT New Zealand Party. He stood in the Epsom electorate in that year's general election, becoming the sole MP for the party, and subsequently its leader. In parliament, he supported the National Government and was appointed as a Minister. Before the end of the parliamentary term, he was found guilty of filing a false electoral return in 2010. He resigned as an MP in June 2013.
Two weeks before the election, Banks and Prime Minister John Key had a very public cup of tea together in a cafe in Newmarket. This was seen as an endorsement of Mr Banks by Mr Key as the pseudo-National candidate for Epsom. Numerous media covered the meeting but were eventually asked to leave so Mr Banks and Mr Key could talk in private. Journalist, Bradley Ambrose, left a recording device on the table, and subsequently gave the recording of the politicians' conversation to the Herald on Sunday newspaper. The recording allegedly contained comments about the leadership of ACT and disparaging remarks about elderly New Zealand First supporters. There was intense media interest in what was on the recording but the Herald refused to publish the recording - which became known as the Teapot Tape.
The ACT Party attracted only 1.07% of the party vote in the election. However, Banks won the Epsom electorate and become the party's sole MP. Party leader Don Brash resigned shortly thereafter and in February 2012, Banks was unanimously voted ACT party leader by the ACT board.
Minister in Fifth National Government
Banks served as Minister of Regulatory Reform, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Commerce and Associate Minister of Education in the Fifth National Government until resigning the ministerial portfolios on 16 October 2013.
When Banks was committed to trial over his 2010 electoral return in October 2013, he resigned his Ministerial positions, but remained as an MP and leader of the Act Party. In December 2013, he announced his intention to step down as Act leader (his replacement, Jamie Whyte, was elected by the party in February 2014). After being found guilty in June 2014, he resigned from Parliament. His conviction, entered on 1 August, barred from standing in any future parliamentary elections."
False electoral return
On 1 August 2014, Banks was convicted for filing a false electoral return after the 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign. (He'd been found guilty on 5 June.) The High Court found that Banks knew that two donations of $25,000, both declared as anonymous, were from Kim Dotcom. Dotcom had offered a single $50,000 donation, but Banks requested cheques small enough to declare as anonymous. This was a breach of the Local Electoral Act 2001. Banks resigned from Parliament on 13 June, ahead of sentencing on 1 August 2014.
Banks has appealed, and has a Court of Appeal hearing scheduled for 29 October.
Sequence of events
Dotcom meetings and donation
Kim Dotcom and John Banks first met in April 2010, when Dotcom had a helicopter fly Banks to his mansion. They "discussed [...] Mr Dotcom’s goals. He hoped to undertake venture capital investment in this country. There was also a short discussion about Mr Dotcom’s residence application and Mr Banks offered to assist in this regard". Banks, with his wife Amanda, visited the mansion again on 5 June. Over lunch, they discussed fundraising for his campaign. Dotcom offered $50,000 towards the campaign.
Kim, his wife Mona Dotcom, and their head of security Wayne Tempero all gave evidence that Banks asked for the donation to be split and remain anonymous. All three told the court that Banks explained this would make it easier for him to "help" Dotcom in the future. Justice Wylie found each of them to be "reliable and credible" witnesses.
Amanda Banks initially denied any discussion of the campaign or donations at the same lunch, but this changed under cross-examination. John Banks' evidence was different again, suggesting that they discussed donations of amounts up to $200,000, or even funding for the entire campaign, but not in great detail. Banks claimed to have suggested a single $25,000 donation, which could remain anonymous.
Later, Banks thanked Dotcom for his support over the phone. He never discussed Dotcom's donation with his campaign team.
Mayoral results and filing of election return
Results were declared on 14 October, confirming Banks' loss to Len Brown. After the campaign Lance Hutchison, JP, a volunteer member of Banks' campaign team, completed the electoral return. Hutchison decided which donations to record as anonymous, including all five of the $25,000 donations the campaign received. Unlike Banks, Hutchison had no way of knowing about Dotcom's donations. Banks signed the return on 9 December without reading the listed donations.
2011 Parliamentary election
Having failed in his bid to become Mayor of Auckland, Banks returned to national politics, re-entering Parliament as the Member for Epsom in the November 2011 general election. He was ACT's only MP. Dotcom had refused to support the ACT Party's campaign.
In January 2012, police raided Kim Dotcom's mansion, seized a range of assets, and arrested him on suspicion of copyright violation. He was held in Mt Eden Prison, in John Banks' Epsom electorate. The bedding aggravated his bad back and he wanted his own mattress from his mansion. He had his solicitor, Gregory Towers, contact Mr Banks for help.
Towers and Banks spoke on the phone for half an hour. Notes that Towers made at the time showed that Banks was unwilling to publicly support Dotcom in case "it b/comes known about election support etc". This note became an important piece of evidence, being accepted by Justice Wylie to refer to the $50,000 given by Dotcom, and to show that Banks knew it was not public knowledge.
In April 2012, allegations surfaced about donations to Banks' 2010 mayoral campaign. Labour MP Trevor Mallard laid a complaint about a $15,000 donation from SkyCity, listed as anonymous by Banks. Days later, Dotcom himself told the New Zealand Herald and TV3's Campbell Live program about his own donations, saying that the $50,000 was split at Banks' request, that the cheques were written out in the presence of Banks, and that Banks called him a few days later to thank him. Two complaints, including another from Mallard, were made to the police about the Dotcom donations. (Like Mallard, the second complainant had also raised the SkyCity donations.)
The Police subsequently investigated, interviewing a number of people including Banks and Dotcom. In July 2012, Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess announced that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Banks and that the complaint was laid outside the statutory six month time limit.
After the Police declined to charge Banks in relation to the donations, retired accountant Graham McCready brought a private prosecution against him instead. This went to court in December 2012. In April 2013 the judge found in favour of Mr McCready, ruling that there was "sufficient evidence" for the case to go to trial. Banks subsequently resigned as a Minister of the Crown, but not as an MP. About a week after the ruling, the Solicitor General took over the prosecution from Mr McCready. Mr Banks then sought and lost a judicial review of the judge's decision.
Conviction, sentence and appeal
Justice Edwin Wylie convicted Banks on 1 August. He was sentenced to two months community detention and 100 hours of community work. The community detention is essentially a curfew from 7pm to 7am on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights during which he must remain in his residence.
Within a week, Banks filed an appeal, claiming that new "watertight" evidence would exonerate him. His sentence is on hold and the Court of Appeal has scheduled a hearing for 29 October.
"John Banks" bill
An amendment to local electoral laws nicknamed the 'John Banks bill' passed its first reading in November 2012. It tightens restrictions on campaign donations, and was directly inspired by Banks' 2010 mayoralty campaign.
He married Amanda Medcalf in December 1987. They adopted three children from a Saint Petersburg orphanage in 1995, a girl and two boys. By the time Amanda gave evidence in Banks' 2014 trial, the pair had separated.
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- Paul Goldsmith: John Banks: A Biography: Auckland: Penguin: 2001: (Updated. Originally published 1997): ISBN 0-14-301819-1
- Noel Harrison: Banks: Behind the Mask: Wellington: Estate of Lyndsay Rae Gammon: 2002: ISBN 0-476-00990-1
- "Campaign website for 2007 Auckland City mayoral bid". Archived from the original on 2010-06-02.
- Profile of John Banks on NZ Parliament website
- John Banks on Twitter
|New Zealand Parliament|
John Gordon Elliott
|Member of Parliament for Whangarei
|Mayor of Auckland City
new title, Mayor of Auckland
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the ACT Party