by Denise Roche
As the Green Party spokesperson on Waste, of course I agree with recycling. But ACT MP and former Auckland City Council Mayor and former National Cabinet Minister John Banks has been recycled so many times that he’s long past his use-by date. The latest revelations of his dodgy dealings to keep donations from SkyCity and Kim Dotcom for his failed super-city mayoralty campaign a secret proves that Mr Banks is prepared to bend or break the rules at whim to protect himself.
Banks’ assertions that he did not know about the donation of the two $25,000 cheques from Kim Dotcom may well be a hair-width’s line inside the requirements of the Local Electoral Act 2001, but hell, it smells fishy and sounds like a rort and his reputation as a Minister in John Key’s Government is totally tarnished. When you put that together with his lobbying his mate Maurice Williamson, the Land Information Minister, so that Mr Dotcom could get approval from the Overseas Investment Office to buy property it all adds up to a nasty picture of mutual-back-scratching cronyism.
As an MP, Mr Banks wouldn’t be able to get away with declaring two $25,000 donations anonymous under the rules that govern spending and returns in General Elections. Voters – whether they’re voting in the General Elections or if they’re voting for their Mayor – should know who’s funding them.
That’s why the Green Party has had a Bill in the ballot since 2009 (which is currently in my name) to require more accountability and transparency around what candidates spend during local government elections. As it says in the general policy statement at the beginning of our Local Electoral (Finance) Amendment Bill, the purpose of the Bill is also to “prevent the undue influence of wealth on electoral outcomes.” The Bill would ensure no donations over $500 remain anonymous and cap donations at $5000.
In the first Auckland Super City mayoralty campaign in 2010, each candidate could spend up to $500,000. It’s important we know where that money comes from so that we can at least guess at what favours are expected in return.
And just for the record in case anyone asks:
Even though I am “anonymous” in the photo on the front page of the NZ Herald today, yes, I was sitting next to Mr Banks on a flight to Wellington yesterday. I had a nap. He had a nap. So I guess you could say we slept together. But I bet he won’t remember that.