Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

John Banks: 'It's a tragedy but no regrets'

John Banks at the Auckland High Court. Photo / Dean Purcell
John Banks at the Auckland High Court. Photo / Dean Purcell

The events leading to the end of John Banks' Parliamentary career today have been "a tragedy" but he has no regrets, remains upbeat and is glad to be alive, Act's departing Epsom MP says.

Mr Banks' resignation as an MP after he was found guilty of filing a false electoral return becomes official today.

"It's not the way I would have wanted to have left but if you're going to have a very long, very full commercial life and a very long and very full political life then you're going to have rainy days and in recent months the rain has been raining," he told NewstalkZB political editor Barry Soper this morning.

Listen to the full audio here.

"It's a tragedy but no regrets and I'm not a victim, we just look forward and we keep going."

In an apparent reference to those listed in obituaries this morning, he said: "There's a lot of people alphabetically listed on the back page of the newspapers today that wish they were me".

Much of Mr Banks' term in Parliament as Act's sole MP has been marred by the initial allegations of electoral fraud related to his failed 2010 bid for the Auckland Supercity mayoralty and his subsequent trial and guilty verdict on charges of knowingly filing a false electoral return.

However, he didn't regret his return to national politics three years ago.

"What a great honour and what a great experience it has been for me to work with an outstanding individual like John Key and his kitchen cabinet in particular and generally the cabinet of the National Party and my coalition friends.


John Banks. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"I've enjoyed it very much. Of course it's been tough and I've had the bad times and bad days but overall it's an been an experience that I could never have expected again and I got, which was great."

Politics was "a noble profession and something to be proud of and I'm grateful for the opportunity".

Mr Banks' sentencing and the issue of whether he will be convicted will be considered by the High Court on August 1.

Mr Banks' resignation would automatically trigger a byelection unless Parliament passes a motion with 75 per cent majority to prevent that.

The National Government will introduce the motion next week and Labour, which until now remained uncommitted, this morning said it would support it.

Leader David Cunliffe said that at a special caucus meeting earlier this week it was decided Labour would not force the byelection "because it is not in the public interest".

A byelection so close to the general election would also be a waste of taxpayers' money and Labour had now written to Mr Key to say it would support the motion.

However he wanted to mark Mr Banks' last day as an MP by calling on Mr Key to support Labour's members bill to scrap the coat-tailing provision under which Act had retained Epsom.

"Act's final foray into Parliament was an abject failure. The deal done by John Key and John Banks in a bid to bring Don Brash back into Parliament backfired spectacularly. John Banks has been nothing but an embarrassment for National this Parliamentary term.

"National needs to end the manipulation of the electoral system in Epsom ? voters there have had enough."

Read more:
Election 2014: Parties ready but are you?
John Armstrong: National left nursing Act's neverending embarrassment

- NZ Herald

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