John Banks (New Zealand politician)

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The Honourable
John Archibald Banks
John Banks At Opening Of Grafton Bridge.jpg
Leader of ACT New Zealand
Assumed office
16 February 2012
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
Preceded by Christine Fletcher
Succeeded by Dick Hubbard
Minister of Police
In office
Prime Minister Jim Bolger
Associate Minister of Education
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Whangarei
In office
1981 – 1999
Preceded by John Gordon Elliott
Succeeded by Philip Heatley
Minister for Regulatory Reform
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Epsom
Assumed office
Preceded by Rodney Hide
Minister for Small Business
Assumed office
12 December 2011
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Maurice Williamson
Associate Minister of Commerce
Personal details
Born (1946-12-02) 2 December 1946 (age 67)
Wellington, New Zealand
Nationality  New Zealand
Political party ACT New Zealand
Other political
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 was a Cabinet Minister from 1990 to 1996.

He served as Mayor of Auckland City for two terms, from 2001 to 2004, and from 2007[1] to 2010. When seven former smaller councils were combined into one to run the Auckland 'supercity', Banks ran for mayor again but was beaten by Len Brown, the serving mayor of Manukau City.[2]

In May 2011, Mr Banks moved back to national politics by joining the ACT New Zealand Party. He stood in Epsom and was elected as the sole MP for the party in 2011. Don Brash resigned and the ACT Board of Trustees then voted Mr Banks in as the new party leader. In parliament, he supported the National Government and was appointed as a Minister. When charges were brought against him in court over improper donations to his mayoralty campaign, Banks resigned as a Minister but remained in parliament.

Before politics[edit]

Banks, born in Wellington, moved to Auckland while still at high school. He attended Avondale College. His father, Archie spent much of his life in prison.[3]

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.[citation needed]

Private life[edit]

Banks lives in Remuera,[4] with his wife Amanda Medcalf who he married in December 1987.[citation needed] They adopted three children from a Saint Petersburg orphanage in 1995, a girl and two boys.[5][6] He holds a private pilot's licence, for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.[7]

In addition to his pilot's licence, Banks also is an avid motorcar and motorcycle enthusiast, owning and regularly riding a Harley Davidson motorbike.[citation needed]

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.[8]

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.[9]

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 – present 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.[citation needed]

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.[10]

Banks gained a position as the host of a talkback radio programme on Radio Pacific in August 1992,[11] taking over the Sunday afternoon timeslot from former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon,[12] for whom he had occasionally substituted during 1991 and 1992.[13] In 1995, his fellow National Party Member of Parliament John Carter rang his programme impersonating a workshy Māori called Hone, which caused widespread offence.[14]

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

Banks retired from Parliament at the 1999 elections.[citation needed]

Return to Parliament[edit]

In 2011 he won the seat of Epsom for the ACT party becoming the sole MP for the party. ACT leader Don Brash resigned and Banks became leader of the party.[15][16]

He served as Minister of Regulatory Reform, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Commerce and Associate Minister of Education in the Fifth National Government[17] until resigning the ministerial portfolios on 16 October 2013[18][19] after being sent to trial over charges of filing a false electoral return in the 2010 Auckland Mayoral campaign. Should he be found guilty, he faces the prospect of losing his electoral seat.

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.[20] He also said Asian immigrants had filthy habits such as spitting on footpaths.[21]

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, with Christine Fletcher trailing by a wide gap.[citation needed]

The 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.[citation needed]

The New Zealand Herald poll's pattern held for most of the campaign as the postal votes came in. On 9 October 2004, Hubbard defeated "Banksie" in his bid to be re-elected as Mayor of Auckland. At the same time, the city also elected a centre-left council, dominated by the City Vision and Action Hobson councillors. 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 for ACT New Zealand. Speculation eventually focused on ACT, and several meetings took place between Banks and senior party members. In the end, however, Banks declined to become an ACT candidate, despite indications that he could win a seat for the ailing party that would guarantee them representation.[citation needed]

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

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 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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[citation needed]

Second Mayoral 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.[24]

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.[25]

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.[26]

Auckland Council[edit]

Banks supported pushing for a unitary authority or a "supercity" from 2001. After the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended and the Government confirmed it would introduce a single council for the Auckland region, Banks confirmed he would stand 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 the second highest polling mayoral candidate, but was beaten by Len Brown by more than 10% of the electoral vote share.[citation needed]

The teapot tapes[edit]

On 18 May 2011 Banks joined ACT New Zealand and contested the Epsom electorate for the party in the 2011 general election.[27] Two weeks before the election, Banks and Prime Minister John Key had a very public cup of tea together in a cafe in Newmarket.[28] This was seen as an endorsement of Mr Banks by John Key as the pseudo-National candidate for Epsom.[29] 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.[28] 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.[30]

The ACT Party did poorly in the election, attracting only 1.07 per cent of the vote. However, Banks won the Epsom electorate becoming 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.[31]

Campaign donation controversy[edit]

In April 2012, TV3 alleged that Banks had asked Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload, for and received a campaign donation of $50,000.[32] TV3's John Campbell alleged that Banks had asked for a $50 000 donation to be broken into two donations of $25 000, which were then reported as anonymous donations, instead of naming Kim Dotcom as the donor as required by the Electoral Finance Act 2007.[33] Dotcom told the New Zealand Herald and TV3's Campbell Live program that the cheques were written out in the presence of Banks, and Banks called him a few days later to thank him.[34] This followed a similar accusation, where Banks was alleged to have failed to name a donation from Skycity Entertainment Group, to the value of $15 000.[35]

A complaint was made to the Electoral Commission, and was subsequently investigated by the Police. In July 2012, Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess announced that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Banks and the complaint was laid outside the statutory six month time limit.[36] However, Miramar pensioner Graham McCready then brought a private prosecution in relation to the donations, and this went to court in December 2012.[37] The judge found in favour of Mr McCready and ruled that there was "sufficient evidence" for the case to go to trial.[38] Mr Banks immediately resigned as a Minister of the Crown[39] and about a week later, the Solicitor General agreed to take over the prosecution from Mr McCready. Mr Banks then sought and lost a judicial review of the judge's decision.[40] He will stand trial in May 2014. He has announced his intention to retire at the 2014 election.

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.[41]



  1. ^ Bernard Orsman (13 October 2007). "Banks ousts Hubbard". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Orsman, Bernard (4 December 2007). "Mayor incensed at high-rise jail plan". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  4. ^ McCracken, Heather (6 June 2010). "'Grey man' to lead the Supercity?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "John Banks' adopted Russian daughter returns the love". Sunday Star Times. 14 September 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  6. ^ "Banks describes his life as average". East And Bays Courier. 23 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Hon John Banks". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  8. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2011". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Banks: I believe Bible's account of how life began - Politics - NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. 20 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "TV3 News – Airplane Phone Addiction". Scoop. 1 June 2001. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  11. ^ Goldsmith, 1997, p 194
  12. ^ "New Hosts with a blend of Politics and Sport". mediaworks. 26 January 2005. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  13. ^ Goldsmith, 1997, p 222
  14. ^ "Talkback Radio – John Carter". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  15. ^ "Don Brash interview announcing resignation as ACT party leader". 26 November 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "John Banks' comments on Don Brash's resignation". 27 November 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Hon John Banks". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "John Banks resigns as Minister". The New Zealand Herald. 16 Octomber 2013. Retrieved 16 Octomber 2013. 
  19. ^ "Fraud trial forces Banks resignation". 16 Octomber 2013. Retrieved 16 Octomber 2013. 
  20. ^ "Banks races into hot water". Television New Zealand. 25 October 2001. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  21. ^ "Stop the spitting, mayor tells Asians". The Age (Melbourne, Australia). 24 February 2004. 
  22. ^ (QNA)
  23. ^ Gay, Edward (17 July 2007). "Banks' mayoralty bid gets public's vote". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  24. ^ Orsman, Bernard (16 October 2007). "Committee numbers among first targets of new-look council". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  25. ^ Boost for Auckland's screen production industry – Auckland City Council
  26. ^ Orsman, Bernard (11 October 2008). "What happened to bully Banks?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  27. ^ Harvey, Sarah (18 May 2011). "John Banks makes move for Epsom". Stuff (New Zealand). Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  28. ^ a b Wilson, Peter (16 November 2011). "Key may face more teapot tape accusations". 3 News (New Zealand). Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  29. ^ Armstrong, John (16 November 2011). "'Teapot tape' could nail lid to ACT coffin". The New Zealand Herald (New Zealand). Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "John Key changes phone number after 'teapot tape' leak", TV3, 26 January 2012
  31. ^ Young, Audrey (16 February 2011). "John Banks confirmed as new Act leader". The New Zealand Herald (New Zealand). Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  32. ^ Watkins, Tracy (28 April 2012). "John Banks Questioned Over Kim Dotcom Donation". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ Fisher, David (28 April 2012). "Dotcom's secret donation to Banks". The New Zealand Herald. 
  35. ^ Trevett, Claire (27 April 2012). "Banks did not reveal SkyCity as big donor". The New Zealand Herald. 
  36. ^ Burgess, Malcolm (26 July 2012). "Outcome of Police investigation into electoral returns of Hon John Banks". Police. 
  37. ^ "Banks in court over donations". 3 News NZ. 11 December 2012. 
  38. ^ "Banks may go to court over donations". 3 News NZ. 19 April 2013. 
  39. ^ John Banks resigns as Minister The New Zealand Herald. 16 October 2013
  40. ^ Banks seeks urgent judicial review Stuff 22 October 2013
  41. ^ "'John Banks Bill' passes first reading". 3 News NZ. 11 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
John Gordon Elliott
Member of Parliament for Whangarei
Succeeded by
Philip Heatley
Political offices
Preceded by
Christine Fletcher
Mayor of Auckland City
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
Succeeded by
Jamie Whyte