Monday, 30 April 2012

More Than This

Goodness me, a weekend is a long time in politics.  It was only Thursday last week I was asking about John Banks's suitability to be a cabinet minister.  Over the weekend he has provided more than sufficient evidence to prove he should not be a Member of Parliament, much less a Minister for the Crown.
I'd like to say I approach the issue from an unbiased perspective.  But I don't.  John Banks comes with a long track record of poor judgement and policy based on whim.
As Minister of Police, back in the early 1990s, he succeeded only in fostering a culture of thuggery and misogyny that had brought us thugs and criminals like Ross Meurant, and Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum.
As mayor of Auckland he did two notable things.  One was to direct public resources to modifying a carpark to suit his car.  The other was to unite the right behind him in the 2010 election.  The latter was a good thing.

Over the weekend the notorious Kim Dotcom entered the fray.  I'm not sure what to think about Mr Dotcom.  The way in which the government has cowered before the US authorities in detaining Mr Dotcom is another shameful episode visited upon us by National, so in that respect I have to give him some benefit of the doubt.  But his taste in housing, and making donations to John Banks...

The meltdown on Q+A was extraordinary.  Mr Banks's failure to provide straight answers to simple questions is unacceptable.

Then tonight there is audio of a conversation with Mr Banks where he denies (a) going to the casino with Kim Dotcom and (b) having a sexual relationship with Mr Dotcom.  I find it very difficult to believe the host genuinely was speaking to John Banks.  My best reason for this is that Banks is not famed for his liberal views on sexuality, and the leap from "relationship = sexual" to "it would be immoral to have a homosexual affair with a man who is married to a woman" happened too quickly for me to avoid suspecting it is a hoax.  If it turns out the conversation was with Banks, it is one of the most extra-ordinary pieces of radio in recent history.

John Key is backing Mr Banks and will not suspend his warrants because Mr Key will only judge him on the legality of his actions, not the morality of them.  Because as PM, he is not in the position to judge morality.  Right?  Honestly, I shook my head in amazement and wonder at how far we have fallen, to have a PM who thinks this is only a legal matter.

Truth is, this is about one of the things I cherish.  Democracy.  Writing rules around democratic process is difficult, because morality and ethics are difficult to convert to processes.  When viewing alleged transgressions, the people we elect to assess those alleged transgressions must take the conservative view and back the people who democracy is meant to protect - the citizens.  In returning to the "legal wrong" line that he ran with Mr English and his housing allowance, Mr Key has clearly backed his mates ahead of New Zealand.  As the most important person in the highest court in the land, anti-democratic behaviour like that is a good reason for resignation.

So, has John Banks done anything wrong in not declaring his donations from Kim Dotcom?  The whole theory that he received more than two donations for the amount he colluded with Kim Dotcom for, so he can't be sure which were from Mr Dotcom is bunk.  And the latest stories that Mr Banks did not call Mr Dotcom to thank him for his donations are (a) confused and (b) irrelevant and (c) only serve to make Mr Banks look ungrateful.  The correct thing to do was first check that Mr Dotcom did make the donations that were discussed - a phonecall would have done it, and (b) declared the donations.  When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

There is is, then.  Mr Banks is not suitable to hold a ministerial warrant.  He should resign his seat in parliament.  And Mr Key, in supporting Mr Banks's immoral behaviour, has crapped on democracy and shown himself to be unsuitable to be Prime Minister.  He too should resign as an MP.

The longer Mr Banks try to hold on to his warrants and electorate seat, the more this foetid mess will corrode the whole government.  In some ways I'm quite keen to see it go on.  How are the Maori Party and Peter Dunne feeling about supporting this circus, these days?

What will question time  bring tomorrow?  I'm expecting something quite unhinged.

Roxy Music - Avalon, 1982

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