John Banks (New Zealand politician)

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The Honourable
John Archibald Banks
CNZM QSO
John Banks At Opening Of Grafton Bridge cropped.jpg
Leader of ACT New Zealand
In office
16 February 2012 – 1 March 2014
Preceded by Don Brash
Succeeded by Jamie Whyte
38th Mayor of Auckland City
In office
2007 – 31 October 2010
Preceded by Dick Hubbard
Succeeded by abolished
In office
2001–2004
Preceded by Christine Fletcher
Succeeded by Dick Hubbard
Minister of Police
In office
1990–1996
Prime Minister Jim Bolger
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Whangarei
In office
1981 – 1999
Preceded by John Gordon Elliott
Succeeded by Philip Heatley
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Epsom
In office
December 12, 2011 – June 8, 2014
Preceded by Rodney Hide
Minister for Small Business
In office
12 December 2011 – October 2013
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Maurice Williamson
Succeeded by Steven Joyce
Minister for Regulatory Reform
In office
12 December 2011 – October 2013
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Rodney Hide
Succeeded by Bill English
Personal details
Born (1946-12-02) 2 December 1946 (age 68)
Wellington, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Political party ACT New Zealand
Other political
affiliations
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 was later overturned by the Court of Appeal.[1][2]

In between his tenures in Parliament, he served as Mayor of Auckland City for two terms, from 2001 to 2004 and from 2007 to 2010.[3] When seven former smaller councils were combined into one to run the Auckland 'supercity' in 2010, Banks unsuccessfully ran for mayor again.[4] 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.[5] The conviction was entered on 1 August, briefly rendering him unable to stand for Parliament again or continue serving as a JP.[6][7] Banks appealed the case to the Court of Appeal,[1] and the conviction was overturned in late November 2014.[2] In light of newly accessed evidence, the court ordered a retrial.

Early life[edit]

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".[8] When John was 14, Archie was released from prison. They moved to Auckland and John attended Avondale College.[9]

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."[10]

Before politics[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Banks began his political career in local-body politics with election to the Birkenhead Borough Council.[11]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
1981–1984 40th Whangarei National
1984–1987 41st Whangarei National
1987–1990 42nd Whangarei National
1990–1993 43rd Whangarei National
1993–1996 44th Whangarei National
1996–1999 45th Whangarei 16 National
2011–2014 50th Epsom 4 ACT

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.[12]

Cabinet minister[edit]

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.[13]

Banks gained a position as the host of a talkback radio programme on Radio Pacific in August 1992,[14] taking over the Sunday afternoon timeslot from former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon,[15] for whom he had occasionally substituted during 1991 and 1992.[16] In 1995, his fellow National Party Member of Parliament John Carter rang his programme impersonating a workshy Māori called Hone, which caused widespread offence.[17]

In 1996, he resigned from Cabinet, becoming a backbencher, after he refused to be in the same cabinet as New Zealand First leader and coalition partner Winston Peters.[12]

Banks retired from Parliament at the 1999 elections.[12]

Mayor of Auckland City[edit]

First term 2001–2004[edit]

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.[citation needed] In 2001 he was caught speeding on a jet ski close to the beach, not long after criticising boy racers.[18]

He also said Asian immigrants had filthy habits such as spitting on footpaths.[19]

2004 mayoralty campaign[edit]

A serious and ultimately successful challenge to Banks' mayoralty came from philanthropic cereal-maker Dick Hubbard in late August 2004. Even six weeks before the election, Hubbard was the more popular candidate in opinion polls.[20]

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. Nicolle at first denied ordering the article distribution, but eventually admitted it. That he'd acted without the authorisation of Banks as the candidate made the story even more controversial during the campaign.[21]

On 9 October 2004, Hubbard was elected as Mayor of Auckland.[22] In early interviews after his election loss, Banks stated that he would look after his varied business interests, both in New Zealand and Australia.[citation needed]

Post-2004 election[edit]

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.[11]

In February 2005, Banks returned to talkback radio reprising his "Breakfast with Banksie" early morning radio show on Radio Pacific.[23]

Re-election in 2007[edit]

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 also indicated qualified support for the proposed 2007 "Hero Parade", which was an annual gay parade held in the 1990s prior to his becoming Mayor.[24] Banks ditched the controversial Eastern Corridor proposal that caused a split in his voting base.[citation needed]

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.[25] Banks campaigned heavily on platforms of affordable progress, plus openness and accountability, particularly in regard to Auckland City's leaky homes crisis.[citation needed]

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.[26]

Second term 2007–2010[edit]

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.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

Auckland Council[edit]

Banks supported the creation of a unitary authority or a "supercity".[30] 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.[citation needed]

Banks was unsuccessful, with Len Brown elected the first "supercity" mayor. Brown's margin over Banks was more than 65,000 votes.[31][32] 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[edit]

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.[12][33] 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.

Teapot tapes[edit]

Two weeks before the 2011 election, Banks and Prime Minister John Key had a very public cup of tea together in a cafe in Newmarket.[34] This was seen as an endorsement of Mr Banks by Mr Key as the pseudo-National candidate for Epsom.[35] 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.[34] 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.[36]

Election results[edit]

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.[37]

Minister in Fifth National Government[edit]

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[38] until resigning the ministerial portfolios on 16 October 2013.[39][40]

Resignations[edit]

When Banks was committed to trial in October 2013 over his false 2010 electoral return (for the Auckland mayoralty), he resigned his Ministerial positions. He remained as an MP and leader of the Act Party.[39] 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).[41] 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."[6][42]

False electoral return accusation[edit]

On 1 August 2014, Banks was convicted for filing a false electoral return after the 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign. (He had 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 two cheques of $25,000 - this being the maximum amount allowed as an anonymous donation at the time under the Local Electoral Act 2001.[6][43] Banks resigned from Parliament on 13 June, ahead of sentencing on 1 August 2014.[5][44]

The Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial in late November.[2]

Sequence of events[edit]

Dotcom meetings and donation[edit]

Kim Dotcom and John Banks first met in April 2010, when Dotcom flew Banks to his mansion in a helicopter. 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.[43]

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.[43]

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.[43]

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[edit]

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.[45]

2011 Parliamentary election[edit]

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.[46] He was ACT's only MP. Dotcom had refused to support the ACT Party's campaign.[citation needed]

Dotcom arrest[edit]

In January 2012, police raided Kim Dotcom's mansion, seized a range of assets, and arrested him on suspicion of copyright violation.[47] 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.[43]

2012 investigation[edit]

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.[48][49] 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.[50][51] 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.)[52]

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.[53]

Private prosecution[edit]

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.[54] 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.[55][56] 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.[57]

The trial began on 19 May, with the guilty verdict delivered on 5 June.[58][59]

Conviction, sentence and appeal[edit]

Justice Edwin Wylie convicted Banks on 1 August.[42] He was sentenced to two months' community detention and 100 hours of community work.[60] The community detention essentially works as a curfew from 7pm to 7am on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights during which he must remain in his residence.[61][62]

Within a week, Banks filed an appeal, claiming that new "watertight" evidence would exonerate him.[1][7][63] His sentence was placed on hold and the Court of Appeal heard his appeal on 29 October. Signed affidavits from two new witnesses, American businessmen David Schaeffer and Jeffery Karnes, stated that they were at the lunch on 5 June 2010, and that there was no discussion about splitting the $50,000 donation into two parts. Kim and Mona Dotcom had both denied that the men were at the lunch in question. The Court of Appeal reserved its decision[64][65][66][67][68] until late November, when it overturned his conviction and ordered a retrial so the American businessmen's affidavits could be considered.[2]

Local Electoral Amendment Bill (The John Banks Bill)[edit]

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 the 'anonymous' donations to Banks' 2010 mayoralty campaign.[69] The Local Electoral Amendment Bill passed its third reading and became law in June 2013.[70] Local Government Minister Chris Tremain said “The Bill limits anonymous donations that a candidate can keep to $1500, clarifies and tightens the definition of ‘anonymous donation’, increases disclosure obligations and requires electoral officers to publish candidate returns of their donations and expenses. The Bill also introduces new penalties for non-compliance."[71]

Personal life[edit]

Banks owns a luxury apartment in central Auckland,[72] having previously lived in Remuera.[73]

He married Amanda Medcalf in December 1987.[74] They adopted three children from a Saint Petersburg orphanage in 1995, a girl and two boys.[75][76] They separated over the stress created by Mr Banks' 2014 trial and Amanda moved to central Otago.[77]

He holds a private pilot's licence, for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.[78] He is also an avid motorcar and motorcycle enthusiast, owning a Harley Davidson motorbike.[74]

He was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to local body affairs.[79]

Banks has stated that he believes the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, describing the creation of the world in six days, are literally true.[80]

References[edit]

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  13. ^ "TV3 News – Airplane Phone Addiction". Scoop. 1 June 2001. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  14. ^ Goldsmith, 1997, p 194
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  16. ^ Goldsmith, 1997, p 222
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  19. ^ "Stop the spitting, mayor tells Asians". The Age (Melbourne, Australia). 24 February 2004. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. 
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  24. ^ (QNA)
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  28. ^ Boost for Auckland's screen production industry – Auckland City Council
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  30. ^ "Divisions over Mayor's support for super city". Radio New Zealand. 21 April 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  31. ^ "Mayor (1) final results, 2010". Auckland Council. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
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  35. ^ Armstrong, John (16 November 2011). "'Teapot tape' could nail lid to ACT coffin". The New Zealand Herald (New Zealand). Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "John Key changes phone number after 'teapot tape' leak", TV3, 26 January 2012
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  45. ^ The Queen vs John Archibald Banks, para 13, Scoop
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  58. ^ Keall, Chris (19 May 2014). "John Banks' trial over Dotcom, Sky City donations begins in High Court today". National Business Review. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
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  61. ^ Steward, Ian (1 August 2014). "John Banks claims new evidence, will appeal conviction". Stuff. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
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  63. ^ "John Banks to appeal conviction". TVNZ - One News. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  64. ^ Steward, Ian (20 August 2014). "Banks set for October appeal". Fairfax Media (stuff.co.nz). Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  65. ^ "John Banks launches appeal against conviction". 3 News. 6 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  66. ^ Quilliam, Rebecca (29 October 2014). "Banks' appeal: Witnesses say donation split wasn't discussed". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  67. ^ Tibshraeny, Jenne (29 October 2014). "Banks to wait for appeal decision". Newstalk ZB. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  68. ^ Chapman, Kate (29 October 2014). "John Banks awaits decision on appeal against conviction". TVNZ. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  69. ^ "'John Banks Bill' passes first reading". 3 News NZ. 11 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  70. ^ Local Electoral Amendment Act 2013, New Zealand legislation
  71. ^ Local Electoral Amendment Bill passes third reading, Scoop 25 June 2013
  72. ^ Fisher, David (6 June 2014). "I'll take the Dotcoms' word over the Banks' - judge". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  73. ^ McCracken, Heather (6 June 2010). "'Grey man' to lead the Supercity?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  74. ^ a b "Colin Craig and John Banks spot the difference". Fairfax media (stuff.co.nz). 8 May 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  75. ^ "John Banks' adopted Russian daughter returns the love". Sunday Star Times. 14 September 2008. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 
  76. ^ "Banks describes his life as average". East And Bays Courier. 23 October 2007. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  77. ^ The Queen vs John Archibald Banks, para 17, Scoop
  78. ^ "Hon John Banks". New Zealand Government. Archived from the original on 2009-04-21. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  79. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2011". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  80. ^ "Banks: I believe Bible's account of how life began". The New Zealand Herald. 20 August 2012. 

Biographies[edit]

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
John Gordon Elliott
Member of Parliament for Whangarei
1981–1999
Succeeded by
Phil Heatley
Preceded by
Rodney Hide
Member of Parliament for Epsom
2011–2014
Succeeded by
David Seymour
Political offices
Preceded by
Christine Fletcher
Mayor of Auckland City
2001–2004
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Dick Hubbard
Preceded by
Dick Hubbard
Succeeded by
Len Brown
new title, Mayor of Auckland
Party political offices
Preceded by
Don Brash
Leader of the ACT Party
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Jamie Whyte