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Q+A: Transcript of panel response to John Banks and David Parker interview

Published: 4:24PM Sunday April 29, 2012 Source: Q+A

PAUL 
Ray Miller, first of all, to you. Has John Banks, as Shearer says, got to stand down?

RAYMOND 
Well, I think there's a lot of mystery around this. He was not at all convincing this morning, in my view. He did not deny anything that Kim Dotcom had been saying, but rather he tried to deflect attention. I think there's something quite serious going on here, because there is an electoral act of 2001 which states that if you knowingly- when you make a submission, if you know the name of the person who has made the donation, you must declare that.

PAUL 
Yes, it's quite clear, quite simple. If somebody makes a donation, say, of 25 grand, and you don't know who that person was, you can declare that person in your electoral return as anonymous. But if you know who made that donation, like sitting there watching the cheque written out, and you call that anonymous, that's a bit dodgy, isn't it?

RAYMOND 
And to offer advice beforehand as to breaking the amount into two lots of 25 and to phone up afterwards, if Dotcom is right, to phone up afterwards and thank him for the money which has come into his account, suggests it was not an anonymous donation.

PAUL 
Yeah, I mean how prima facie can you get? Does he have to stand down? Is it serious for him?

SUE 
Oh, I think he should. I mean, he just showed the most phenomenal gall just now on this programme, sitting there and acting as if there's no issue, but I think most people in this country understand now there is a real issue, as Raymond's just said. There is a serious legal matter here. I understand complaints have been made with the police. I hope that these complaints are not just ignored, as so often happens. Politicians have been playing fun and games with electoral laws around donations forever in my experience. People do push the borders. Whatever the laws are, they always push at the borders. But this is such a blatant breach of the law. In terms of claiming anonymity or pretending anonymity when it's so clear that it wasn't.

PAUL 
Well, I don't want to broaden it more than it's already broad, but did you notice in his return there were five lots of $25,000?

SUE 
Yes, well, you do wonder.

PAUL 
One does wonder. Is he in trouble? Christine, what do you think?

CHRISTINE 
Well, I think he is, and how the hell does a seasoned performer get himself into this situation? Look, you do have a group working for you when you're on a campaign like that, and they do all of that stuff, but it is your responsibility to know, and, you know, we've learned more and more about this new act and what the regulations and determinations of it are. I just cannot believe this, and to not answer your question directly makes me very very concerned.

PAUL 
Well, there was no weakness to be perceived there at all. I mean, it could be- He said he'll be cleared. He could be cleared.

CHRISTINE 
He may be right, but it's not sounding very good.

PAUL 
Of course, the danger for the government in this is that if he does get into the position of being forced to step down, and we don't know what Prime Minister- Well, what can the Prime Minister do? He's of another party. But he's the one key vote, isn't he, or certain key vote on the convention centre.

SUE 
I don't think that the voters of Epsom in a by-election are, unfortunately, very likely to vote for a left or left-of-centre candidate, which, of course, is what a lot of us would love to see happen. So ultimately, I don't think Key and co are going to be particularly worried. They may just simply get their own man in in a by-election and actually feel more comfortable.

CHRISTINE 
And it's a vain hope that he won't be the sideshow next week.

RAYMOND 
And you know this teacup saga goes on and on and on, and how much has it cost the government in terms of Winston Peter's eight MPs in there who wouldn't have been in there otherwise, and now all of this. It cost an awful lot to save John Banks, I must say.

SUE 
One of the best things is we could see charter schools down the road, which could be a wonderful outcome of this.

PAUL 
What have you got against charter schools? What are they, actually? I meant to get John Tamihere to explain this to me one day and ran out of time.

SUE 
Well, they appear to be many things to many people, but it's taking some schools outside of the state system into what I see as a privatised system where not-for-profits or private enterprise can run schools how they wish without adhering to any or many of the standards that apply in the rest of our education system. It's a terribly regressive-

PAUL 
Well, Britain built an empire with the church owning the schools and the government coming in very late, didn't they?

CHRISTINE 
What's wrong with doing things differently? If we get the right results, great. Go for it.

PAUL 
Anyway, we better talk about that thing we were talking about originally with David Parker and John Banks, which is this billion-dollar shortfall.

RAYMOND 
Yeah, the worrying thing for me was something that Bill English said this week, which was that we need to pay off the deficit and get into surplus so that we can provide a buffer for future recessions. Now, how deeply depressing is that? It really makes me wonder about this austerity process that the government is on. It really- We're seeing already in Europe, and including the United Kingdom, a kind of a voter backlash against it. Up until now, the public I think has given them support because of their economic management. But the more it costs people in terms of their everyday lives, the more this austerity is going to cause, I think, a voter backlash-

PAUL 
And in terms of economics, of course, they have been austering themselves left, right and centre, and Britain has still gone into recession again.

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