A Statement By John Banks

On Sunday morning I made it clear to Paul Holmes on TVNZ’s Q&A current affairs show that I didn’t come up the river on a cabbage boat.

I am aware that a number of my enemies are trying to catch me out, and I fully expect they will be looking to twist my words. So in order to “front-foot” this matter, as the saying goes, I am making the following statement.

I have no recollection of ever travelling on any cabbage boat. I have gone on a number of river journeys over the years, and I don’t ever remember seeing crates of cabbages on any of the vessels I sailed on.

If any cabbages were being transported during those river sojourns, then it was certainly not something brought to my attention. Having said that, it would be unreasonable to expect a politician to go below and inspect every single crate of cargo for hidden cabbages, every time he wanted to go on a river cruise.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have been scrupulous in avoiding cabbages throughout my political career. As far as I am aware I have only ever eaten cabbage once during my political career, but this was an error due to a catering mix-up, and I disclosed the matter to everyone at the dinner table at the time. I was so concerned at the catering mix-up that I sought and obtained assurances from the people involved that it was a genuine error, and I have sworn affidavits to that effect from those people.

So I have nothing to hide, and I welcome any enquiry into my eating habits.

But let me be clear, in case footage subsequently emerges of me eating coleslaw or sprawled among piles of cabbages on the deck of a boat as it winds its way up some river, that any statement I may have made in the past about my cabbage-related activities was made in good faith and to the best of my knowledge.

I have been in politics most of my working life, and I meet a lot of people and go to a lot of lunches and dinners. I can’t always control the meals served to me, and rather than offend my hosts with demands for cabbage-free meals, I often request that they don’t reveal whether or not they have put cabbage on my plate. By telling my hosts to make the cabbage out to be anonymous I am avoiding future problems, both for me and for my hosts. This is all above board, and if you ask any law professor whether my eating habits have broken any laws they’ll tell you you’re being ridiculous.

It is true that I have eaten bok choy several times, and although I am aware that some people refer to bok choy as “Chinese cabbage”, I refuse to accept that my failure to declare my consumption of bok choy has in any way been misleading or dishonest.

I lead a party that is fighting hard to make New Zealand a better place, and I’m not interested in sideshows about brassica varieties that I may or may not have inadvertently eaten, especially when there are thousands of kids in South Auckland going hungry, for whom a decent cabbage meal would be a luxury.

So even if it turned out that I had a cabbage fetish and secretly enjoyed filming myself rolling around in the stuff in the basement of my house while listening to Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All, why would that be a problem?

Anyone who suggests I have done anything wrong is just trying to cause political mischief. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a helicopter to catch.

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