Minister of Small Business resigns
The leader and sole representative of the ACT New Zealand party, John Banks stood down as Minister of Small Business and Associate Minister of Commerce yesterday. The resignation followed a decision by a District Court to take him to trial over charges of filing a false electoral return in the 2010 Auckland Mayoral campaign. Mr Banks will remain as a Member of Parliament whilst he clears his name, but if found guilty could face a two year prison sentence.
The formal announcement of his resignation as published on beehive is as follows:
“PM accepts John Banks’ resignation as Minister
Prime Minister John Key today announced that he has accepted John Banks’ offer to resign as a Minister.
“I have spoken to Mr Banks this afternoon following the Auckland District Court’s decision that he should stand trial for alleged fraud over his electoral returns following a private prosecution,” Mr Key says.
“Mr Banks indicated to my Chief of Staff late last week that in the event the Judge ruled against him, he would tender his resignation as a Minister,” Mr Key says.
“It is with regret that I announce today that I have accepted that resignation, and will be advising the Governor-General accordingly.
“Mr Banks maintains his innocence but realises this is a distraction for the Government and has offered to resign as a Minister.
“Even though the events occurred before Mr Banks entered Parliament in 2011, this is totally the right call and I have accepted Mr Banks’ offer to resign as a Minister.
“Mr Banks has a number of legal avenues to explore, including whether to appeal the District Court Judge’s decision or to plead not guilty at the trial.
“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.
“Since the 2011 election, Mr Banks has been an able, competent and reliable Minister.
“Mr Banks has advised me that he intends to continue to meet the terms of the Act Party’s confidence and supply agreement with the National Party.
“I will be reallocating Mr Banks’ portfolios to existing Ministers and will announce this in the next few days,” Mr Key says.”