It’s becoming the debate that no one wants to talk about in polite circles anymore- The Flag. Indications are that opinions are not as divided as they may seem. There’s reasons and stuff. The arguments about the flag have meant that many can no longer see the wood for the trees. There’s those that say that that’s exactly what John Key wants: all the hobbits arguing in the magic forest about a flag while he gets his secret TPPA deals signed, sealed and delivered…
So far the plethora of mostly nonacademic (therefore statistically not robust) polls have indicated that the majority are against the change. Since the decision to change the flag is going to be decided by a series of referendums (which cost millions of dollars to carry out but are the democratic way to make decisions) one would think that the first question to ask would be ‘Do you want NZ to have a new flag design’? This seems like common sense really and would save tens of millions of dollars if the answer was no and any forward motion on the idea could be halted. But John Key obviously wants the flag change to go ahead and for that reason he is not asking that question first.
First he’s going to send a bunch of people around New Zealand to run workshops for flag designs and then the first referendum question will be : ‘If the New Zealand flag changes, which flag would you prefer’? John’s no fool (snigger) and he’s figured out that he’s going to spend a lot of (our) money getting that first question and all the designs done and then before the ‘should we change the flag?’ question he’s going to point out what a huge waste of time and money it will be if we turn down the option to change. It’s a very passive aggressive move, and a way to make it look like it will be our fault for wasting all the money- not his. I wouldn’t be surprised if he set a bunch of money on fire and chucked it in the bin to make his point.
So the majority of New Zealanders seem to not want to change the flag. Let’s not get too lost in the reasons but some of them are: those that have fought under our flag, the cost, the symbolism, attachment to national identity etc. All the arguments have their merits, as do the arguments for change, but it’s not a debate that’s going to answer the question to change or not, it’s a referendum (one that John’s swinging in his favour by going about the questions in the most ridiculous way). It’s our money and our flag, we are the people and we should get to say yes or no before millions of dollars are wasted choosing and creating a design. If John wanted a fair referendum he would respond to the requests by the Labour Party, NZ First, Green Party and Māori Party to order the questions differently, but he doesn’t want fairness- he’s in for the win. There’ll be a flag change – That’s what John wants.
It’s so kind of John to allow us to have a say about the flag right? He’s flying the flag of fairness and democratic leadership for New Zealand. So why don’t we get to have our say about something as important as feeding kids in schools, or the TPPA? Am I flagging in the morality zone of my brain or what? It seems to me that these two issues (which we are having no say in, and in the case of the TPPA no access to information about) are way more important for New Zealanders to participate in. The TPPA poses a serious threat to New Zealanders but John our father figure will take care of all that serious stuff, so don’t worry, grab a crayon and draw your own flag design.
In this climate of beneficiary bashing and terrible child poverty it seems that John has got his priorities all wrong. The ‘feed kids in schools‘ bill which aims to provide food to children that suffer from poverty was knocked back by John- he thinks its a bit unnecessary and too expensive. He decided to flag it. This is such hypocritical behaviour given what we hear said about beneficiaries- ‘they’re spending all their money on alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes’ , ‘they’re costing the taxpayer millions’ etc. Now if I were on the benefit and saw a great letterbox that cost thousands of dollars but it meant I couldn’t feed my kids, would my argument stack up- ‘but it truly represents our home and our family well’, ‘yes the children won’t have food but we can deal with that later’, ‘ the new letterbox will unite us all, bring more people to our home, and make us more recognizable’, ‘let me show you the letterbox before you decide, I’m just paying thousands of dollars to get it designed, then you can decide’. One should expect that that kind of behaviour would be seen as reckless, selfish and unnecessary. Why don’t we find a way to unite New Zealanders into solving our problems with poverty first, then deal with the flag.
I am in favour of a Flag change under certain conditions. They are: where it represents a significant change to New Zealand’s standing in the world(if we became a republic), when our people are not suffering from poverty, when a simple and united flag design will be meaningful to all New Zealanders and represent us accurately to the world, when the majority of New Zealanders agree to a change.
I’ve got some ideas about what the flag should look like too. The simplest are the most memorable, like Japans, or Canada’s. They cleverly avoided any issue around peoples representation on their flags. Canada- We make maple syrup- Maple leaf! Boom. Japan- The Sun! Boom! Personally I like the Silver Fern and I think that if a quiz was run around the world more people would recognise that as from New Zealand than our current flag. It would be good since we are spending so much money on this flag issue if we could perhaps include a vexillographer – a person who designs flags(there is no such person on the hand selected flag committee). A good representation of our country right now for the flag design could be of John Key’s toilet paper. New Zealand currency with his shit on it to represent how he’s wiping his arse with us and our money. Maybe a picture of John just shitting on the poor would be a fair design? I can already see the holiday snaps of John with his pasty body lying on his new New Zealand towel. Make sure you have your say New Zealand, don’t let your morals flag.