The story was buried under a mountain of lurid mayoral stories, but I did read this week that John Banks, the Minister for Rhyming Slang, stood himself down from ministerial office after being indicted in a private action for electoral fraud.
I immediately assumed the obvious. I assumed it was because a disgruntled voter had taken Banks to court the courts after discovering the ACT Party had defrauded voters, and supporters, in pretending to be a freedom party.
And because he had defrauded the ACT Party hierarchy in pretending to be both a freedom-lover and a politician of integrity.
In which case, it occurred to me, both ACT and Banks have an absolute defence: only a moment’s research would have been enough to reveal to the disgruntled voter that neither Banks nor ACT were anything of the sort.
Which would make this moment in time something to really celebrate: the moment when the ACT near-corpse is finally euthanased and sent for a decent burial.
I was astonished then to discover the indictment was not for this obvious and compelling reason, but only for a couple of anonymous donations to his failed mayoral campaign of a few years ago, for which Banks had asked the donors, SkyCity and Kim DotCon, to split each of their donations to keep them anonymous.
In real terms, hardly a hanging offence, you would have thought.
Surely, lying to a gullible easily-convinced set of voters, supporters and party members is worse?
Mind you, Metiria Turei has a point that John Banks should be precluded from voting on any legislation involving gambling or SkyCity, on the basis of political donations not being rewarded with political favour. Just as the Greens, for similar reasons based on their own donor list in recent years, should be barred from voting on legislation relating to forestry, finance companies, audiology and classical music; the Maori Party from voting on legislation related to transport and trucking; the National Party from voting on legislation relating to finance, farming, real estate, oil exploration and dining out; the Labour Party from voting on anything related to meat, dairy, transport, oil exploration or labour or employment laws; and all parties, on the basis of donations from Fletcher Building and increasingly generous state broadcasting advertising allocations, from voting on legislation relating to building, construction and increasingly generous allocations to state broadcasting.
Or, just maybe, the point should be that these entities in parliament should be barred from being able to vote into power legislation about what is bought and sold and built. Because as PJ O’Rourke points out, when legislation is able to be passed that controls what is bought and sold, the first thing to be bought and sold are the legislators.