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Firewalls up in smoke

Written By: - Date published: 6:35 pm, April 30th, 2012 - 34 comments
Categories: act, election 2011, election funding, Ethics, john banks, john key, national, privatisation, uk politics - Tags:

David Cameron’s defence of embattled Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been called a “firewall” that’s failing to hold. As the stench of corruption around the Murdoch empire grows by the day, Cameron needs Hunt to stay or else Cameron is the next to go. It is the same for John Key. As the stench of corruption around John Banks grows, he desperately needs him to stay or else all he loses legitimacy for asset sales and potentially his majority on the issue as well.

Hunt was a cheerleader for Murdoch while the Liberals Vince Cable was Culture Secretary and in charge of the decision to allow the Murdochs to acquire 100% of BSkyB with its massive cash flow. Cable was outed as an opponent of the Murdochs in a sting by the Telegraph journalists, so Cameron sacked him and installed Hunt. Supposedly in charge of a semi-judicial process, Hunt’s confidential adviser Adam Smith was secretly communicating with the Murdoch PR man behind the scenes. That was revealed in 193 pages of emails supplied to the Leveson enquiry by News International. Adam Smith was sacked and Hunt is hanging on. As one questioner said in the House of Commons: “When posh boys are in trouble, the servants get the sack”.

John Banks’ defence of the indefensible as to whether or not he knew Kim Dotcom was a donor to his campaign has turned from bluster to bluff. As he has realised that refusing to answer direct questions wasn’t working, he has resorted to selective denial: “I didn’t ring him to thank him for that donation.” A bit like Rupert, really – ” I have never asked a Prime Minister for anything.” – yeah right. And Key is taking Banks’ word that he acted strictly according to the law – this in spite of the fact that Banks clearly didn’t know what the law was about anonymous donation levels.

Hunt will have to wait a couple of months for the Leveson enquiry to put his case, and Banks will have to wait some time for the police to decide what to do. But the court of public opinion has already passed its verdict on both. There’s something rotten in right-wing governments on both sides of the world. The Tories are down to 29% against Labour’s 40%.

Oh and by the way, I think I will go down to the Electoral Commission tomorrow and have a look at Banks’ Epsom candidate return. It’s showing $30,500 in donations, and the rules are much stricter under the Electoral Act 1993 than under the Local Electoral Act 2001. Anonymous donations above $1500 are not allowed, donations have to be transmitted to the candidate, and contributors above $1500 to combined donations have to be identified. You never know, it could be even more interesting than the party donations.

34 comments on “Firewalls up in smoke ”

  1. Carol 1

    Ah. Now I can access this post.

    Banks seems now to be claiming he didn’t ring an anonymous donor to thank him for an anonymous donation – as reported on Campbell Live tonight. Is Banksie playing word games?

    And is the cronyism in capitalism unraveling here and in the UK?

    Banks should have realised that you should keep your cronies close and your dotcom “friends” even closer!

    • Molly Polly 1.1

      Yes, yes, yes Carol! Brilliant piece from Campbell Live tonight. Mike you are right. Tomorrow should be interesting…

    • felix 1.2

      “Is Banksie playing word games?”

      Yep, he’s answering a question that hasn’t been asked. Not making a very good show of it either.

      Interviewer: “Did you (x)?”

      Liar: “I would never (y). It doesn’t even make sense for me to (y). I wouldn’t even know how to (y) and I’m outraged that you would even accuse me of (y) at all.”

  2. tsmithfield 2

    Yesterday I thought Banks was toast, because Dotcom had written two cheques. I was under the impression that Dotcom had personally handed the cheques to Banks in front of witnesses, which would have course left no doubt whatsoever about the donations.

    However, it has now emerged that a Dotcom employee deposited the cheques directly into an account on behalf of Banks. Given that those donations would show as anonymous, there has been a number of legal views coming out suggesting there is enough wiggle room for Banks, and that he will probably get off on a technicality.

    What should be more of a worry to the PM, though, is the appalling memory that Banks seems to have. Not being able to remember events such as helicopter rides with Dotcom etc, suggests Banks must be on the verge of Alzheimer’s, and thus can’t be trusted as a minister because he might not remember other important details in government. Perhaps the left might have more luck pushing this angle.

    • freedom 2.1

      this whole ‘the cheques will show up as anonymous in his account’ business seems a bit weird as whenever a cheque has been deposited in my bank account it plainly shows who the drawer was.

      what i don’t trust any of these guys with is not fiddling with the phone records to make the evidence that the thank you call ever existed dissappear in a puff of backscratching

      and only the naive think this cannot or would not or has not already been done

    • felix 2.2

      “Given that those donations would show as anonymous”

      That’s not a given at all. Just another one of your “if we pretend (x) for a moment then my made up story might make sense if you squint hard enough” arguments.

      • Pete George 2.2.1

        It’s easy for deposited cheques to appear unidentified, when you make teller deposits you tell them if you want any reference recorded.

        So it’s feasible for anonymous donations to be deposited. But if Banks had access to the account transactions and/or balance, had just talked to someone about splitting 50k into two 25k cheques and suggesting they are deposited anonymously, and then 2x25k deposits appear soon after then it wouldn’t be difficult to guess.

        It would also be possible for him the say thanks to Dotcom in a general or round about way, like “thanks for your help, by the way, Team Banks was also very grateful to have just received two very good donations”.

        Lesson 1 – the actual politician should not handle the bank account or see anything specific about any donations.

        Lesson 2 – don’t try and be clever with your election returns.

        Less 3 – don’t try and act dumb when asked about things that can easily be checked.

        That could be reqorded as be sensible, honest and be open.

        It’s possible Banks can weedle his way out of this legally, but the political damage is probably terminal for him and Act will have difficulty recovering from yet another fiasco.

    • Lanthanide 2.3

      If the phone logs show Banks called Dotcom when Dotcom says he did, that’s pretty much enough right there. Doesn’t matter who he gave the cheques to.

      • Carol 2.3.1

        As I recall, Banks said the phone call was to thank Dotcom for the fireworks.

      • tsmithfield 2.3.2

        I guess that depends on how the whole saga ties in with when Dotcom agreed to fund the fireworks. According to the news tonight, the display took place over six months after the 50k donation for the mayoralty. But Dotcom might have agreed to fund it well prior to then. So, Banks might be able to say that the phone call was in respect of the fireworks display, even if the timing of the call was just after the donations.

        What would then be needed would be a recording of the actual conversation. If Dotcom had that, it would probably already be in the public domain and Banks would be gone.

        If Banks can show a number of 25k donations made without references on the bank statement, and if the call can be logically tied to the fireworks display, then he may well get away with it.

        The way Banks has handled this though, has been really shoddy. He could easily have front-footed this. For instance:

        Yes, I had a discussion with Dotcom about money. Yes, agreed to fund $50000, and I asked for it to be in two $25k amounts. I saw the checks written out, but I never saw them deposited.

        When I came to sign the return, the treasurer alerted me to five $25k amounts that had been given without reference. Since there was no reference to them, and couldn’t be tied to specific donors they were shown as anonymous donations, although I suspected several of them may have been from Dotcom, who could well have deposited the cheques I had seen.

        This explanation would probably align with the technical legal position on donations, and avoided all the nonsense about not remembering shit.

        • felix

          “The way Banks has handled this though, has been really shoddy.”

          Yep, over and above any legal technicalities it’s his behaviour that’s sealed his fate for sure. I think Parker put it pretty well as ‘You can’t say you’ve got nothing to hide and then refuse to answer questions’.

        • freedom

          ” couldn’t be tied to specific donors ” they are $25,000 cheques for fuck’s sake not lima beans

          • tsmithfield

            True. But there were five donors, and only two of them would have been from Dotcom. It is a theoretical possibility that some other party might have stepped up with two lots of $25k that Banks didn’t know about, and Dotcom decided to tear his cheques up. Unlikely, but possible. On that basis Banks could make a case for declaring the donations on an anonymous basis.

            Its not just me saying this. Watch the news. Various legal experts are saying the rules are loose enough to drive a truck through.

            • freedom

              to quote Big George from DeadMan
              “I don’t give a shit who saw what, and who did what, or who did who. ”
              rules do not change the fact a deposited cheque is as good as a fingerprint. The identity of every donor who deposited a cheque is known. In fact with basic transaction processing, bank security, ATM cameras and every other piece of tech at the disposal of these clowns any and every donation can be identified. Yes the lawyers can find a way around the rules and probably will but can we please stop this horseshit that the cheques are anonymous.

            • felix

              Fact is, in NZ politics there is no such thing as an anonymous 25000 donation.

              And everybody knows it.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    While you are looking at Banks Dotcom’s Epsom candidate return note he hasnt filled out the his address as required by law.
    Its left “Blank”

    As well there is a donation from a named candidate who is isnt correctly listed his address, it only has “Auckland.”
    Every body else has a street address.

    Raise this with the electoral office so its sent back to Banks/Blank to be filled out correctly as described in S209 of the Electoral Act


  4. Anne 4

    The consensus of opinion between Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton on Radio NZ’s Monday morning political spot:

    The fallout from this affair will be lengthy but terminal for John Banks.

  5. tc 5

    Lol this is what happens when you resurrect dinosaurs, you get a reminder as to why they were extinct in the first place.

    Banks has a lot more to give on the dodgy front, the longer shonkey leaves it the more the cancer will invade his brand….lmao.

  6. jaymam 6

    I wonder if Banks’ Epsom expenditure return includes the hirage of this huge mobile billboard for four months, since it was being towed around by someone who said that he was a National supporter:

  7. mike 7

    Again Key in trouble giving us his political flank undressed on a plate and I wanted to see our leader, Mister Shearer, have his moment on prime time. I caught my breath as he stared at the ground and conceded a by election in Epson even before it was called. I had wanted to hear him say we would vigourously contest any by election in Epson, if it happened, on the sale of state assets… the sale of our countries farms…. the sale of our workforce… to overseas corporates, and… the political integrity of this current government. Politics 101?
    Key must feel blessed with this opposition leader. I support Mister Shearer, however there is much to lose and we no longer have the time to watch and wait I’m sorry.

    • tc 7.1

      Yup the Nats just love dave ‘guns on the inside ‘ shearer….the gift that keeps on giving by doing nothing.

      Politics is a contact sport and the last person the Nats wanted was someone who understood that….well done duck man and pagani you got your man and kept you’re undeserved positions….NZ will be the loser unless the leader situation is rectified sharpish. I’d settle for DC getting finance back from the ineffectual and nerdy Parker.

  8. xtasy 8

    Go, go, go Dotcom, sink the rotten ship of the NZ government. Stench all over, stench, methane fumes out of every cavity of their bodies, decay, rot and more! So I read that someone alleges that while Dotcom was in remand prison in Mt Eden, he tried to make contact with dear old “Banksie”. “Banksie” suddenly wanted nothing to do with him, denied all knowledge of previous encounters and so forth. So Dotcom must be a bit angry now. “Banksie” was according to video and audio footage almost all over him, when some hints of a large donation for his mayoral campaign were discussed. His eyes got bigger, according to Dotcom, after he showed willingness to contribute 50 k. And it is on record now, that dear old “Banksie” (who now also favours the SkyCity Casino) was suggesting that it get split into two, so it would be possible to declare as “anonymous”.

    Well, but the law is so ambiguous again, so a loophole may save his neck. I suggest Dotcom go all the way now, disclose ALL evidence, declare by way of an affidavit what his and his staff’s record of events are, and then see what weasle way there may be left for Banks.

    We may have a byelection, it will likely get another Nat in, but at least it may lead to some legislation to be delayed and further scrutinised. That in itself would be good. Go Dotcom, dig the grave for “Banksie”!

    • North 8.1

      It would be odd for the likes of Dotcom not to maintain a very detailed, possibly digital, log of all his dealings with powerful and connected people. Ego, insurance, moments like now, who knows ?

      Sir Botox, after performing like a mad thing on Radio Live about Dotcom being a married man, and demanding that he and Kim are not an item – comes up with a denial of the “thank you” call. Ahem.

      Let’s hope Old Kimbo has several safely hidden copies of the digital record of every damned thing that happened in 2010 including the “thanks”. If it exists something might well be in Key’s hands before Dotcom says another word.

      In a lighter vein – Piss off Sir Botox……..Rise Ye Sir Kim !

      • fender 8.1.1

        “Rise ye Sir Kim”

        This guy has done well and I hope he gets his cloud back and he can store Banks inside it.

  9. BLiP 9

    Is someone who doesn’t know who gave him $25,000 also a person suitable for public office? John Key thinks so. But then, John Key doesn’t know how many shares he owns in the companies likely to benefit from his Prime Ministerial activities. What a pair.

  10. Kiwi Pete 10

    What I find impossible to believe is that John Banks can not remember flying out to the Kim.com mansion for lunch by helicopter. Give. Me. A. Break.
    If his mind is really that far gone he shouldn’t be in politics but in an old peoples home. Listening to him whitter on Campbell Live made me feel sorry for the people of Epsom that this is who they have to represent them.

    • fender 10.1


      I think the folk of Epsom should show how pissed they should be by not voting Nat or Act in future.

  11. Penny Bright 11

    Maybe ‘shonky’ John Key is scared that if he isn’t seen to back ‘dodgy’ John Banks to the very end – ‘Banksie’ might do a ‘Kim Dotcom’ on him?

    (After all his years in politics – both central and local – ‘Banksie’ will presumably know where LOTS of ‘bodies are buried’ – as it were? )

    We can all see what a man of great integrity is John Banks, current Minister of Regulatory Reform, and current Leader of the ACT Party?

    (Not to mention having a memory like an elephant ……. NOT)

    I actually feel sorry for a number of those young ACT on Campus folk.

    Surely it was bad enough that their latest ACT Leader was a ‘social conservative’ – let alone a yet-to-be charged /convicted ‘white collar’ criminal,/ electoral fraudster?

    How soon is ‘shonky’ John Key going to pull the plug on ‘dodgy’ John Key – before both of them go down the electoral gurgler?


    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

  12. bbfloyd 12

    i may be a bit off beam here, but this sounds very similar to what banks’ campaign manager was forced to fall on his sword over after being beaten by dick hubbard back in 04….

    of course. banks being an old tory, he isn’t about to change his approach to doing business… which, as we should know, is what he is in politics for in the first place… just like the vast majority of tory politicians since the inception of party politics….

    what is different is that he hasn’t placed the usual sacrificial pawns in the way of any blowback this time….. are the tories getting too used to the protection they have been getting from the media?

    it’s starting to look that way…

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