Act MP John Banks has announced his resignation from
Parliament, effective from this Friday.
The Epsom MP made his decision after being found guilty last
Thursday of filing a false donations declaration for the
Auckland mayoral race in 2010.
"I have given my heart and soul over four decades to making a
worthwhile contribution to this country," he said in a
statement. "I have always endeavored to do the right thing.
Consequently I am saddened at this turn of events."
Act Party leader Jamie Whyte is thought to have wanted his
resignation but friends of Banks say he was likely to have
resigned anyway to prevent further damage to Act and
The move means Banks will avoid being forced out of
Parliament by a conviction.
The judge held off entering a conviction last Thursday until
sentencing on August 1 because Banks' lawyer, David Jones QC,
gave notice he wanted to apply for a discharge without
It is highly unlikely a by-election will be held in Epsom to
fill his vacancy.
Because the vacancy falls within six months of a general
election, a by-election can be avoided with the support of 75
per cent of the Parliament.
Prime Minister John Key said tonight: "Mr Banks' resignation
was the right thing to do under the circumstances."
"Given the proximity of the resignation to the General
Election on September 20, the Government intends to seek
Parliament's support not to hold a by-election in the Epsom
seat, and will be taking a motion to the House in the first
sitting week back."
Labour leader David Cunliffe said Mr Banks' resignation was
inevitable "but should have come a lot sooner".
He criticized Mr Key for having described Mr Banks as an
"honest" man, after the verdict on Thursday.
"The public has a right to expect the highest standards of
its elected officials. The Prime Minister has presided over a
serious decline in those standards."
"This Government's mandate has rested on a man found guilty
of a serious electoral offence; on Peter Dunne, stripped of
his ministerial warrants after he lost the trust of the Prime
Minister having allegedly leaked a classified GCSB report;
and on a Maori Party cravenly propping up the Government."
Banks said he would write to Parliament's Speaker, David
Carter, tomorrow advising him of his resignation from Friday.
"This timeframe allows a number of constituency,
administrative and staffing matters in Epsom and Wellington
to be dealt with over the next few days," he said.
"I have been privileged to serve the people of Epsom and New
Zealand at both a local level and in Wellington."
Banks is a former National MP and minister and former Mayor
of Auckland, who was beaten by Len Brown in 2010.
He joined Act in concert with former National leader Don
Brash in 2011 after Dr Brash conducted a coup against Act
leader and former Epsom MP Rodney Hide.
Banks became the leader of Act in 2011 when he was the only
Act MP elected.
Banks stepped down from the Act leadership in December last
year after he was committed for trial on the election
donations issue and he announced his intention to retire at
the 2011 election.
Dr Whyte was elected leader in February and David Seymour was
selected to contest Epsom for Act.
Banks' resignation will not affect National's ability to lead
the minority Government.
With 59 MPs in the 121-seat Parliament, National needs 61
votes to govern now and when the House is reduced to 120 MPs
National has the support of three MPs in the Maori Party and
one MP in United Future, still giving it a comfortable
Justice Edwin Wylie found Mr Banks guilty of filing a false
return in relation to two donations of $25,000 made by Kim
Dotcom's Megastuff company which were signed off by Mr Banks
At sentencing on August 1 he could face a fine of up to
$10,000 and a prison sentence of up to two years although
Justice Wylie said he would also consider home detention, and
an application for a discharge without conviction.