There’s a lot of suspicious stuff going on around the John Banks guilty verdict that doesn’t seem to be being questioned inside newspapers. (in fact there seems to be an effort to shield him to some degree, which is hilarious, because it’s just feeding the outrage)
Firstly, there was the fact that this case had to initially be brought by private prosecution. There is a culture of not convicting politicians for electoral fraud because it’s seen as part of “business as usual”, especially if you’re a right-wing politician. (If you’re a left-wing politician, as always you’re held to a higher standard, even if it’s not perfectly executed) This should never have had to happen- this case should have been brought by the Crown to begin with.
Secondly, there’s the odd wait between the verdict and sentencing in this case, that possibly smacks of political favouritism to the government. I’m sure that waits before sentencing are a thing that happens, but a two-month wait in a high profile case where there are political ramifications as soon as sentencing occurs, and the timing puts sentencing after parliament goes into recess? That’s ridiculously contrived. Banks should have been sentenced shortly after the verdict, which will give him his chance at not being convicted in the sentencing despite being found guilty. (Which will be a problem of its own if it happens)
But in the meantime we’re left with a parliament in limbo, where Banks may technically remain an MP under the law, even though he has been found guilty of a crime that is the modern equivalent of treason against the state. (that is, undermining our democratic system) Banks should do the least dishonourable thing (because by delaying this long, let’s face it, there’s no honour left to be claimed) and resign. If his sentencing is quashed and therefore he isn’t convicted, then he can live to run again. (good luck though, if you’re an ex-bigot and guilty of electoral fraud, you’re about as electable as Roger Douglass)
The really shady thing here though is that the government didn’t immediately call on Banks to resign, or rule out working with him. They’re still considering working with Banks even as his party leader is pressuring him to resign.
First there was the obvious corruption that has stymied Judith Collins’ run for leader, (thanks to successful shielding from the National Party and the media, she’s somehow still a minister) then Maurice Williamson serially attempting to influence police investigations, and now we have Banks guilty of electoral fraud. This is record-setting levels of corruption in New Zealand, and it continues to put to lie our perception of being the least corrupt country in the world.
update: Of course, he announced his pending resignation the same day. For some odd reason he’s waiting until Friday, but at least he eventually did the right thing.