John Banks. Photo NZ Herald
Prime Minister John Key says National would have refused
to accept some votes of Act MP John Banks had he not said he
would quit Parliament.
National had decided that it would not introduce legislation
that depended on the Epsom MP's vote, but didn't pressure him
to resign, Mr Key said.
That means the Government does not have enough votes to
progress the controversial Employment Relations Amendment
Bill in this term of Parliament.
The PM could not think of any other bills that would have
depended on Banks.
Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said that with 12 more
hours of the Budget debate and 16 valedictory speeches to get
through, there was little time for much other legislation
between now and when the House rises next month.
Without Banks, National will still have 63 votes on
confidence and supply issues in the 120-seat House.
Unionists will celebrate the fact that the employment bill
does not have the numbers to progress this term. It abolishes
the duty of good faith on a union and employer to conclude a
collective agreement, relaxes rules on meal and tea breaks
and lets employers dock pay for partial strikes.
Banks last night announced he will resign next Friday, after
being found guilty of filing a false donations return in
respect of two $25,000 cheques from Kim Dotcom's Megastuff
company for the 2010 Super City mayoral election.
"I have given my heart and soul over four decades to making a
worthwhile contribution to this country," Banks said. "I have
always endeavoured to do the right thing. Consequently I am
deeply saddened at this turn of events."
Banks was convinced he was going to win the High Court case
and friends told the Herald he had taken the verdict hard.
Act leader Jamie Whyte said the party had a lot to thank
Banks for: he won the Epsom seat in 2011, had established
partnership schools which was important to Act and - while he
was more conservative than Act members - voted as an Act MP
rather than according to his personal views on some
occasions, such as in favour of the gay-marriage law.
Banks is due to be sentenced on August 1, when the judge will
also say whether he will convict him. A conviction would have
forced the MP from Parliament anyway.
What appears to have clinched his resignation is advice that
in such an event, Parliament would have had to be recalled to
vote against holding a byelection so close to the September
20 general election.
Dr Whyte spoke to Banks on Saturday and expressed his
preference for him to resign.
Mr Key's chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, also spoke to him,
but the PM said National wasn't "putting massive pressure on
National needs the support of 75 per cent of the House to
avoid holding a costly byelection, so effectively it needs
Labour leader David Cunliffe said last night his initial view
was that the public would not thank Labour for the expense of
a byelection. But he wanted to talk to caucus colleagues as
well as other Opposition parties.
Mr Cunliffe criticised Mr Key for describing Banks as an
"honest" man after the verdict on Thursday.
"This Government's mandate has rested on a man found guilty
of a serious electoral offence; on [United First MP] Peter
Dunne, stripped of his ministerial warrants after he lost the
trust of the Prime Minister having allegedly leaked a
classified [Government Communications Security Bureau]
report; and on a Maori Party cravenly propping up the