John Banks is unlikely to be able to lay claim to the Maori Throne. Not successfully, anyway.
Accordingly it will be difficult for him to argue that a conviction for breaking the law around electoral donations might disqualify him from sitting on that throne one day . A conviction therefore is on the cards, when he turns up to learn what sentence has been decided for him, even though his offence is not in the same anti-social league as the burglary and drunken driving that landed a certain high-ranking indigenous person in trouble.
Well over half the people questioned about Banks’ fate in a survey accordingly have a fair chance of finding the judge goes along with them when they say they want him convicted.
Banks – it will be remembered – was leader of the Act party before he resigned last month. He was a former government minister, too.
Alas, he was found guilty in the High Court at Auckland of knowingly filing a false electoral return.
The case related to two donations of $25,000 each by Kim Dotcom to Banks’ 2010 bid for the Auckland mayoralty, which were recorded as anonymous.
Frankly, Alf would have the bugger locked up for wanting to be the mayor of that sprawling, dysfunctional chunk of the North Island.
But wanting to be mayor is not a criminal offence, no matter what it tells us about his state of mind.
The electoral funding thing is a different matter.
The NZ Herald puts us in the picture:
He will be sentenced on August 1, and has indicated he will ask to be discharged without conviction. His legal team has also not ruled out appealing against the decision.
But only 17.7 per cent of those polled in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey thought the judge should discharge him without conviction.
Almost half – 49.3 per cent – thought the judge should convict and fine him, while 22.6 per cent wanted a conviction and a sentence of home detention.
Ten per cent did not know or did not answer.
The poll question did not include the option of a custodial sentence.
The poll was conducted from June 6 to 15, just days after the verdict, with a sample size of 750 and a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.
Alf was fascinated to find that we Nats are a soft-hearted lot, when it comes to Banksie’s fate.
Or is it a case of our being soft-hearted when it comes to shenanigans in the electoral financing department?
One in four National supporters were in favour of a discharge without conviction, twice as high as among Labour supporters. But 63 per cent of National supporters still thought he should be convicted.
Dunno why Green MP Kevin Hague has been sorted out for special mention, because Alf is led to believe he dines on tofu which is apt to impair one’s judgement. But for what it’s worth he favoured a conviction, though he said it was rightfully for a judge to decide, not a politician.
“It seems to me that the magnitude of the offending, and Mr Banks’ repeated denials of any culpability, indicate that a conviction would be appropriate.”
So what does he make of the case of the son of the Maori king, a feckless lad who admitted a bit of burglary and drink driving , but who last week was discharged without conviction?
Perhaps the case of the Crown Prince of Maoridom has tempered Maori Party thinking, because co-leader Tariana Turia said Banks did not deserve a conviction.
“I don’t think so. It’s not the worst thing in the world.
“I definitely don’t think it deserves a jail sentence. My view is that it would be very easy for a politician to make mistakes, and I think he has many other qualities that I admire.
“He has made a big mistake, and I think we should accept it for what it is.”
Alf was by no means surprised to find that Banks did not respond to a request for comment.
What – exactly – did the Herald hacks expect him to say? That he would like to share a cell with Rolf Harris?