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John Banks to resign from Parliament

Published: 9:43AM Sunday June 08, 2014 Source: ONE News

One of New Zealand's most controversial politicians for the past three decades is quitting.
 
John Banks announced late this afternoon that he will resign as the Act MP for Epsom.

The move follows mounting pressure just days after he was found guilty of filing a false donations declaration for the 2010 Auckland mayoral race.

Thursday's guilty verdict for failing to declare a $50,000 donation from Kim Dotcom put Banks on track to being kicked out of Parliament in August.

ONE News deputy political editor Michael Parkin says it's an undignified end for a man who entered Parliament in 1981 as a National MP and went on to become a minister of police.

But his final act on the national stage has come with the beleaguered Act party.

"Further to decision of the High Court at Auckland last Thursday, I will resign the seat of Epsom effective from 5pm this Friday the 13th of June 2014," Mr Banks said in a statement late this afternoon.
 
"I will write to the Speaker tomorrow advising him of my resignation," Mr Banks said.
 
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," he continued.
 
"I have given my heart and soul over four decades to making a worthwhile contribution to this country. I have always endeavoured to do the right thing. Consequently I am deeply saddened at this turn of events.
 
"As the matter is still before the Court I will be making no further comment."

Banks will be sentenced on August 1 and has applied for a discharge without conviction.

Act leader Jamie Whyte said earlier that until then Banks is legally entitled to remain as a Member of Parliament but he could choose to step down as an MP before sentencing.

"It is a decision for John to make. I've given him the weekend to think about it," Mr Whyte told ONE News.

'The right thing to do'

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key says 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," the spokesman said.

'Inevitable'
 
Labour Leader David Cunliffe says John Banks' resignation was inevitable but should have come a lot sooner,

"The only reason Mr Banks has remained in Parliament for so long is because John Key and National needed his vote," Mr Cunliffe says.

"Mr Key even tried to minimise the importance of the offence by describing Mr Banks as an 'honest' man despite the High Court judge finding otherwise.

"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." Mr Cunliffe says.

'An honourable man'

Act's campaign director Richard Prebble said this morning Mr Banks is an honourable man and would do what he thinks is in the best interests of the country, the party and the Epsom electorate.

Mr Prebble told TVNZ's Q+A Mr Banks is a proud man and would "do the right and honourable thing".

Mr Banks would put the interests of the Epsom electorate first and the issue is a massive distraction from the election campaign, Mr Prebble said.

National's campaign director Steven Joyce said Banks would have to make the right decision for his electorate, his party and the parliament.

"They've got to decide how they want to look heading into the election campaign," Mr Joyce told Q+A.

Mr Joyce says "everybody's feeling a bit sad" for Banks but with only five weeks left in Parliament it's not going to make a massive difference at this point in the cycle.

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