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Banks on Sky City donations: I have nothing to hide

Thursday 26 Apr 2012 6:54 p.m.

By Patrick Gower

The Labour Party is calling on the police to investigate a $15,000 donation from Sky City to ACT Party leader John Banks while he was campaigning to be Auckland mayor.

They also want Mr Banks to sit on the sideline when Parliament votes on the possible Sky City convention centre deal.

Mr Banks and his then-rival Len Brown both received $15,000 from Sky City during their campaigns for the Auckland Mayoralty in 2010.

Mr Banks put the donation through as anonymous whereas Mr Brown declared the source.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard says Mr Banks was trying it and Mr Banks says Labour is playing dirty. 

Mr Banks has not always been the biggest fan of casinos, attacking them in Parliament in 1997.

“They're wide boys, they're flash boys, they're big boys and they can take it. Because the little people of this country have been sucked, hung, drawn, quartered, bled by these people in these casinos,” he said.

But when those so-called “wide-boys” came knocking with a donation to his 2010 Mayoral campaign – Mr Banks took it.

Although a search of council records shows he simply declared $15,000 dollars from an anonymous source.

Mr Mallard says Mr Banks did not want people to know that Sky City was funding his campaign.

Mr Banks denies this, saying he has nothing to hide, nothing to fear and says he has not broken the law.

“This is a time honoured Labour party contention - flaying around, desperate for any publicity.

“Everyone knows Mallard. He'll say anything. He'll do anything. He is the Labour Party's show pony. He's good for one trick - mostly, dirty tricks,” Mr Banks says.

Labour’s motivation is obvious - the penalty for submitting a return when knowing that it is false is imprisonment for up to 2 years or a fine up to $10,000.

Under electoral law, a sitting MP must vacate seat if convicted of a crime punishable by two years or upwards. 

Mr Banks' vote can make or break John Key's pokies deal and he is a certain yes vote because he owes his seat in Parliament to the Prime Minister and the cup of tea.

So with dirty tricks allegations from both sides, the pokies deal is now well and truly getting down to bare-knuckle politics.

The Auckland electoral officer says he is urgently considering whether to pass the matter to Police.

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