Written By: - Date published: 11:50 am, May 4th, 2012 - 44 comments
Categories: act, brand key, democratic participation, election 2011, election 2014, john banks, john key, leadership, MMP, national, Privatisation, same old national - Tags:
The media are doing their job, and a good job, investigating John Banks’ donation history. Today’s story by Danya Levy in the DomPost follows up those by John Campbell on Campbell Live and David Fisher in the Herald. The Police are presumably also doing theirs, and it seems clear that the matter must end up in Court and the issue of who is telling the truth will be decided by a judge.
The media’s questioning of the obvious makes John Key and Wayne Eagleson look like complete wallies. I’m absolutely certain that Helen Clark and Heather Simpson would not have been so lacking of interest in any specific answers.
It has been a mystery to many why Key has hung on so long to Banks’ threadbare justification. It must be because the political consequences are significant, and the stakes very high. Some in the media have dismissed the question of any threat to National’s majority. Short-term maybe, long-term I’m not so sure.
Submissions are under way on the Mixed Ownership Model Bill, recently introduced to Parliament by a one-vote majority of the parties. 61 votes for, 59 from National, 1 from ACT, and 1 from United Future versus 60 votes against, 34 from Labour, 14 from Greens, 8 from New Zealand First, 3 from Maori party and 1 from Mana. As slim as it gets.
If John Banks is convicted of the offence of presenting a false return, and is therefore required to step down from Parliament, or if he decides to resign to focus on clearing his name before he suffers that indignity, there will need to be a by-election in Epsom. Then it gets interesting.
If National stands its previous candidate, Paul Goldsmith, who asked Epsom voters only to party-vote National, then National continues to have 59 votes in Parliament, ACT loses its member, and the majority for MOM lapses. Some commentators on Kiwiblog have said Goldsmith could stand, be elected, resign before the writ is returned, have another National member replace him from the list, and then take his seat as the member. This would make Banks look clean.
If National stand a candidate who is not already in Parliament and win the seat, which David Farrar says they would do with ease, then they would have 60 members, more than the 59 they are entitled to under the Electoral Act from party votes cast in 2011. This is because a MP elected from the list remains a Member of Parliament unless they resign. It would be a rort, similar to what happened in the dying days of the Shipley-led National government that led to the party-hopping legislation.
The only other option for the right is for ACT to stand a candidate and National not to enter the lists. Given the smell emanating from ACT and its current zero-rating in the polls, this may be considered too much of a risk.
So it looks like a rort. The surest sign of a dying government.