One News reports:
John Banks has been found guilty of knowingly filing a false electoral return after his failed Auckland mayoral campaign in 2010. …
Banks faces a jail sentence of up to two years or a $10,000 fine.
He won’t get a jail sentence, but unless he is discharged without conviction, he will lose his seat in Parliament.
S55(1)(d) of the Electoral Act states:
The seat of any member of Parliament shall become vacant if he or she is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for life or by 2 or more years’ imprisonment
The Speaker will declare his seat vacant once he receives the judgment.
S131(a) also states:
Notwithstanding anything in section 129, no writ shall be issued for a by-election to supply a vacancy in the House of Representatives if the vacancy arises in the period of 6 months ending with the date of the expiration of the Parliament and a resolution that a writ not be issued to supply the vacancy is passed by a majority of 75% of all the members of the House of Representatives
I expect a motion to this effect will be moved on the next House sitting day (Tuesday) and after a two hour or so debate, passed.
It will mean that the Government will only have 60 out of 120 seats for the remainder of its term and will be unable to pass laws without the support of the Maori Party or some other party or MP.
A very sad way for John Banks to end his political career, but a lesson for all politicians to take the utmost care when doing donation returns – and err on the side of transparency.