John Banks to resign
ACT MP John Banks has confirmed he will resign from Parliament after being found guilty of filing a false electoral return.
Banks said in a statement this evening he would step down as MP for Epsom on Friday.
"I will write to the Speaker tomorrow advising him of my resignation," he 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."
Banks said it had been a privilege to serve the public.
"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."
He would not comment further while the matter was still before the court.
Banks was found guilty this week of filing a false electoral return relating to two $25,000 donations from internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom for his failed 2010 campaign for the Auckland mayoralty. The judge found the charge was not proved in relation to a donation of $15,000 from SkyCity.
If Banks was convicted on August 1 when he was set to return to court he would have been forced to resign from Parliament.
Prime Minister John Key said Banks' resignation was "the right thing to do under the circumstances".
Labour leader David Cunliffe said the 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 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."
Cunliffe said the public had a right to expect high standards of elected officials which have been in decline under National.
Key said that given the fact the general election was due to be held on September 20, the Government would seek leave not to hold a by-election in Bank's Epsom seat.
The motion would be put forward the week after next, when MPs return from a two-week recess. It will require the support of 75 per cent of the House.
Banks’ resignation will also not affect National’s ability to govern, with 59 of its own MPs in the House which will be reduced to 120, as well as the support of the Maori Party’s three MPs and United Future leader Peter Dunne.
ACT leader Jamie Whyte said he had not expected the decision until tomorrow but said it was the right one.
“I think he's done the right thing for himself actually I think it would have bene very hard for him to have hung on in there, for Act and for Parliament.”
The decision would allow them to move the focus from banks onto ACT's policies.
“It’s been a terrible distraction and I hope we can put it behind us and focus on the issues.”