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Paul Holmes interviews Trevor Mallard

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Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE. Repeats of Q&A will screen on TVNZ7 at 9pm Sundays and 9am and 1pm on Mondays.

PAUL HOLMES INTERVIEWS TREVOR MALLARD

PAUL The John Banks-Kim Dotcom saga - the Prime Minister continues to stand by his minister, John Banks - the ACT leader, John Banks. And Mr Banks himself says he has nothing to hide but refuses to answer questions about the $50,000 cheques and any subsequent phone calls between him and the Dotcom camp. Labour MP Trevor Mallard has complained to police, questioning whether donations from Mr Dotcom and Sky City, plus some radio ads should've been labelled anonymous in Mr Banks' post-election declaration. Trevor Mallard, welcome.

TREVOR MALLARD - Labour MP

Thank you, Paul.

PAUL Well, look, it's been a week of, 'He said this, he said that, he said, "No, I didn't do this. No, nothing's gone wrong."' What have you actually got?

TREVOR Well, I think we've got a possum in the headlights in John Banks, and we've got a contagion on the side of John Key. The longer John Key keeps Banks there, the worse Key looks. And I think in politics, that's successful. As a parliamentarian, I hate it. Guys who are acting like Banks, who can't remember, who's before the police on a serious electoral-fraud charge, someone whose ethics are questionable, someone who lied to the media, just shouldn't be in Parliament.

PAUL Well, you know, a fellow can be in the headlights and not have done anything wrong. Regarding Dotcom, the man who wrote the cheques - not Dotcom, his man - the fellow who wrote the cheques says Banks was not there when the cheques were written. He's told us that. He's told the Dominion Post. Dotcom may have discussed a donation - nothing wrong with that - with Mr Banks - discussing a donation. The money might have gone in without Mr Banks knowing.

TREVOR Well-

PAUL You've-

TREVOR I think the man-

PAUL You haven't pinged him.

TREVOR The man you've been talking to has said a couple of other things, and that is that Banks asked for the cheque to be divided in two to be at $25,000 and that Banks rang one of the staff to say thank you for it.

PAUL Okay, first of all on the 25,000 - make it two cheques - what's wrong with that?

TREVOR Well, it was designed to disguise it because there were five cheques of 25,000.

PAUL You believe it was intent? There was an intention?

TREVOR Well, why do you ask for a cheque to be divided if you're not trying to? I mean, a lot of this opposition-

PAUL Well, he might have-

TREVOR The police-

PAUL Mr Dotcom may have given the impression he was going to write out a cheque and probably 50 grand and blah blah. But Mr Banks didn't see it written out, didn't know it was going in-

TREVOR No, no, he just asked for two 25s, and you ask why.

PAUL All right, that phone you're talking about - unless there is a recording made of that phone call, we'll never know, will we, whether it was Banks thanking Mr Dotcom for money or Mr Banks thanking Mr Dotcom for the money for the fireworks display.

TREVOR Well, I think there's six months' difference, and I think the timing-

PAUL You mean May a bit late to be thanking him for the New Year's Eve-?

TREVOR The timing of the phone call is probably relevant, yes.

PAUL I suppose too the length of the phone call - if he were thanking him for the cash would be shorter than thanking him for the fireworks. I don't know.

TREVOR It's very hard to tell with Mr Banks the length of any phone call.

PAUL But is there any-? Go back to the helicopter - this famous helicopter ride. Is there anything wrong with accepting a helicopter ride if he did?

TREVOR Oh, hell no. Nothing wrong at all, but what is wrong is that you lie about it, and what's even more wrong is when you've lied about it, the Prime Minister defending you.

PAUL So spell it out in your view - we don't know that he's lied, Trevor.

TREVOR Well, John Banks denied catching that helicopter. The records show- The records show that he did catch the helicopter-

PAUL With respect, though, I mean, he said he couldn't recall, I think was the- because he's so used to flying in helicopters.

TREVOR And do you think he was being honest when he said he didn't recall?

PAUL (laughs) I think you'd remember a helicopter ride like that. I don't know. But again, if he took it, maybe he was just rabbit in the headlights and was worried about committing to anything at that particular point.

TREVOR Well, I think he was worried about telling the truth, and the old adage in politics is fess up quick, and he should have fessed up quick. This would have been over on your programme last week.

PAUL All right, but if he fessed up to what you want him to fess up too, he's a goner.

TREVOR If- Yes, and so he should be.

PAUL What if you-? What has he actually done that's so terribly wrong? I mean, it's hardly Russian oligarchy, is it?

TREVOR Well, it is-

PAUL Buying the power network for five bob.

TREVOR There's a list of at least three things, I think. There's very questionable deals around radio advertising. You know, got to authorise radio advertising. I can't see how you can do that-

PAUL His campaign manager could've done. I thought about that. His campaign manager could've done that, couldn't he?

TREVOR And-

PAUL The candidate didn't have to know about it.

TREVOR And if the campaign manager was under instructions or didn't tell someone that he received a donation of 15,000 worth of advertising from a radio company or anyone else, that person was negligent. The next question is the Sky City donation. Len Brown declared it; John Banks didn't. And remember, this is where all of this started. It started when we went looking for why John Banks might have changed his mind from being rabidly anti-casino to rabidly pro-casino. His is a vote; his is a vital vote on this. He got a donation, and he didn't declare it.

PAUL The role of the Prime Minister in this you've criticised, and, of course, the Prime Minister - he has in the past said he expects to hold his ministers to a higher ethical standard than other people. Now he's talking about simply abiding by the law. But he's right, isn't he? You can't kick a man out of his job unless it is proven absolutely that he's broken the law.

TREVOR No, I think what you do is you stand someone down. I had a leader who was an expert at doing this. She used to stand people down until the facts were sorted out, and then they either came back or they didn't. And I think that's the right approach because otherwise you're going to have John Banks in the Parliament, answering questions, and, remember, he is John Key's minister. He- John Key is reflected in John Banks every time he stands up.

PAUL What do you think this all means for the future of ACT?

TREVOR Oh, well, I think that ACT is finished, but I hope- I hope that John Banks can stay there until the election, be the candidate for ACT at the next election, because that will mean that they- there is three more years before we get a real right-wing party.

PAUL Of course your leader would stand people down and sometimes not bring them back even though the facts showed they did nothing wrong, but that's for another day.

TREVOR Well, my leader went on the basis of principles as well as the law. She believed in ethics as well as the law, and that is different to John Key.

PAUL Mr Trevor Mallard, thank you for coming in.

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