[Sitting date: 02 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:1852. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) to the
Prime Minister: Did Mr Banks explain to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff that he would use “obfuscation” in his dealings with the media over the “anonymous” donations from Kim Dotcom?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister)
Barbara Stewart: What did his chief of staff ask Mr Banks about the Dotcom and Skycity donations, bearing in mind that Mr Banks was not being “absolutely upfront” in all his dealings?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The thing is, as I said to the House yesterday, on Saturday morning my chief of staff sought an assurance from Mr Banks that he had fully complied with the requirements of the Local Electoral Act in respect of donations. Mr
Banks gave his assurance during that phone call, and stated that he was not aware that Mr Dotcom had made the donation to his mayoral campaign.
Barbara Stewart: What was his reaction to Mr Banks’ admission that he had used obfuscation in his dealings with the media?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Minister himself has said that he has followed legal advice, but in hindsight it may have been better for him just to have answered those questions straight away.
Denis O’Rourke: Did John Banks tell the Prime Minister he was obfuscating as a result of legal advice?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.
Denis O’Rourke: Has the Prime Minister received any other advice or reports indicating that Mr Banks may be obfuscating on other issues dealing with Dotcom, bearing in mind that he had been toastmaster at Dotcom’s birthday party—or did he mistake him for Cameron Slater?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but can I make this point to the member: he is a member of New Zealand First. If New Zealand First members are that interested in getting answers from Mr Banks, why did he not just get the boss to ask him while he was sitting on the plane? They look like they were having a nice old time together.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Did John Banks tell him or his office that Mr Dotcom facilitated a discount for personal accommodation for Mr Banks at the Hyatt in Hong Kong while Mr Banks was a Minister; and if so, did he or his office ensure that Mr Banks was properly briefed on the requirement to declare that discount on his declaration of pecuniary interests?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not to the best of my knowledge, but my chief of staff has said to me that Mr Banks has made an assurance that he paid for all expenses on the trip to Hong Kong.
Denis O’Rourke: Did John Banks tell the Prime Minister that obfuscation is just another word for bull dot dot dot com?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but maybe that member should go out and watch the footage of Winston Peters holding up a “No” sign, telling the New Zealand public for 6 months that he did not know anything about Owen Glenn. Maybe he should go and look at Winston Peters dealing with the media for 24-plus years, and he will get a great example of what obfuscation is. It is when you do not answer any question, no matter how directly it is asked of you, and no matter how much you need to bend the truth.