Prime Minister John Key has staunchly backed John Banks since allegations regarding his mishandling of donations first surfaced.
Key on April 30, 2012 saying he had sought assurances from Banks that he had acted lawfully:
- "I've asked directly the question, I've been given an assurance by Mr Banks that he complied with all the local government regulations and laws and I accept him at his word."
- "I have to believe what they tell me or how can I possibly enjoy their confidence? I've dealt with John a lot over the last couple of years and I've found him to be honest. If somebody thinks that John Banks isn't telling the truth, they have a very simple remedy - they go to the police."
Key on September 16 2012 on accepting Banks' word:
- "I accept his word, I accept the law is very ambiguous, and I accept that the Labour Party is using this as a politically motivated attempt to get to the Government.''
- "I haven't read that police report and I'm not going to because I don't need to ... It's not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is, the law doesn't work.''
Key on September 16 2012 on whether lying was a sackable offence for ministers:
- "The test for whether someone can be a minister is whether they enjoy my confidence. If a minister tells me this is my position and this is what I've done, I accept their word in good faith unless it's proven otherwise."
Key on September 17 2012, rejecting calls for Banks to be sacked:
"I accept him at his word, no charges have been laid and he's not going to be found guilty of anything. There is no case to be held against Mr Banks, he hasn't broken the law."
Key in Parliament on September 18 2012 facing questions from Labour about the donations and why he did not read the police file:
"Because it is not my practice to go and read police files. This will come as a great shock to the member, but the police are independent in New Zealand. They do their own investigations, and guess what! This is the bit that the Labour Party is not quoting. Guess what! The police said that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute by the way, no case."
Key in Parliament on September 18 2012 when questioned about why he would not read the police report:
"Because I don't need to. The test is whether I can rely on the member's word. He'd given me an assurance he met the law. Police have quite clearly said there was insufficient evidence, there's a statute of limitations, he's complied with the law."
Key on October 16 2013 after Banks stood down as minister pending trial:
"He could have argued that he was going to guts it out because he claims strongly that he's innocent, but realistically for a minister to be in the Government and defending potentially a fraud charge, I think, you know, he made the right decision to offer his resignation."
Key on October 16, 2013 in regards to Bank's future if he escaped conviction::
"Without prejudging the outcome of these legal avenues, if Mr Banks is successful on appeal or proved to be not guilty at trial, it is my intention to reinstate him as a Minister.
A statement from Key's office on June 4 following the guilty verdict:
"The Prime Minister has this afternoon acknowledged Justice Wylie's decision that ACT MP John Banks is guilty of filing a false electoral return. Mr Key, who is currently in Niue on the Pacific Mission, says he cannot comment while the matter is still before the court."
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