Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: So who exactly placed conditions on that flag meeting?

56 Responses

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  • chris, in reply to Pete Sime,

    That’s the beauty of STV,

    If you’re selecting a rugby team.

    When you’ve got two choices that are basically identical to anyone who is colour blind in that area of the spectrum, in a nation where 200,000 people suffer from colour deficiency, when the number signing a petition for inclusion of a fifth flag is less than 50% of the number in this nation who are sight impaired, when the demographic most engaged by the issue (children) aren’t even legally able to vote, when there’s a possibility that no one’s first choice will win and a high probability that many people’s third choice might, when we’re seriously proposing relegating the incumbent a minuscule weighting compared its potential usurpers, when the most likely outcome and only real upshot of this system will be a nation of semi-winners, when we’re here to learn who exactly placed conditions on a flag meeting…

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to Dave Patrick,

    People wave it at sports events, it’s on the gravestones of soldiers overseas, people will be excited about it and want to own it (with an aside about how New Zealanders are patriotic but don’t show it, but if we had a nice new flag with a fern on it, then everyone would want to wave one all the time).

    This seems to be the spiel, I saw someone tweeting this morning that he was making similar noises at some event or other.

    Hooton makes a similar argument about Ferns flying at rugby games and I think I've seen a DPF post along similar lines. They recall that at the last world cup plenty of kiwis flew the fern and think that it's because we are embarrassed by our flag, or something like that.

    I think a more obvious explanation is that we fly the fern at All Blacks matches because we are attending as rugby mad All Blacks fans. Being a NZer is part of that, it's related for sure, but the fern isn't a substitute for the national flag at test matches; it's the All Blacks symbol. We fly it for that reason. And that sponsors usually give versions away free at the gate.

    And the thing about putting the new flag on all our products if it's a fern is similar. I'm not convinced that many people will ditch their own fern designs to put the national flag on their goods. It's just odd thinking. Not the oddest thing I've seen this week, but only coz I just watched a Republican primary debate.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    The debate beyond that around the red peak flag's inclusion has been fairly non-existent. People aren't engaged - a third of potential voters don't turn up to a general election for example. Those I know who don't vote just think it doesn't include them anyway - the wealthy elite will get whatever they want anyway. Even my friends who do engage politically dismiss a conversation about the topic in less than a minute, whereas a convo about today's Lochinvar Station sale refusal and the approval for the sale of 50% of Silver Fern Farms may take hours, especially with a group with a range of political views present. It is unfortunately a non-issue for many who will be expected to live under the design that is victorious.
    I'd like to see a change - my Irish ancestors aren't represented in the Union Jack and multiple other countries fly a Southern Cross. We should become a Republic first, and then, with that underlying cause for change and intent to do so, maybe the thinking behind the design and the involvement level of the public would be enhanced.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to SteveH,

    What if we’d had the “do you want to change?” referendum already and decided on change, and then the panel had presented these same four alternatives to choose from? There might have been rioting in the streets.

    I see a similar line has been taken in this today’s Labour slamming Herald editorial:

    This proposition became tiresome long ago. People cannot sensibly consider a change of this kind without knowing what the alternative would be.

    We really must be a gormless bunch, if that dismissal continues to have legs. We know what the alternatives are. The Herald has been publishing pics of them everyday, I assume the anonymous vac who wrote that works for or is at least vaguely connected with the Herald. Is it unusual to expect this writer to at least be observant enough to have seen the alternatives? Is it unreasonable to expect that this writer be sufficiently equipped to make these kinds of hazardous conceptual leaps. the alternatives are very real, in your newspaper, on your website. Who pressed ‘publish’?

    As for your example SteveH, assuming we didn’t have the alternatives, assuming we do hypothetically go back to before this began and in the first referendum ask “Should New Zealand change its flag?”

    Then hypothetically we could also be back in a time where we could delay any of the proceedings, e.g. the appointment of any panels, the submission of any designs, the selection of any shortlist, the holding of any FCP meetings, until – and this is really the crux of the thing – UNTIL, we’ve decided if there is – to quote Russell – a “groundswell for change”

    So yes we could venture back at 88mph and do all that without one iota of riot.

    They’re just playing us for fools, the Herald appear to honestly believe that its readership are thick as porridge.

    John Key had a twinkle in his eye when he did an about-face on Red Peak, offering to add it to the options if all other parties (except New Zealand First) agreed

    A nine year old could disassemble these jazzy constructions, and fortunately that’s about my mental age, Why Labour and ‘not New Zealand First’? Why not ‘not New Zealand First’ and also ‘not Labour’? If ‘not New Zealand First’ and ‘not Labour’ as a possibility is anything beyond an arbitrary accord the PM refuses to make, then what’s with your headline?

    Editorial: Little should lighten up on flag options

    Who exactly holds the balance of power in this democracy?

    Is the balance of power in New Zealand held in place by nothing more than a corrupt or inept media establishment towing the party line?

    Please excuse all the phlegm Steve, most of it is not directed at you.

    But one more time with feeling, because it’s awesome. :

    This proposition became tiresome long ago. People cannot sensibly consider a change of this kind without knowing what the alternative would be. We probably would not have adopted MMP if the 1992 referendum had asked, do you want to change the electoral system?


    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    um, so yeah, I did eventually make it through that baffling section on MMP to:

    The offer was clearly mischievous; the Government does not need Labour's votes to add Red Peak to the referendum. But it tested Mr Little's agility.

    Incensed I then lodged a complaint relating to the misrepresentation in paragraphs three and four with the Press Council though I've no idea if any guidelines apply to editorials.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • chris,


    Observation 1: For anyone with an interest in retaining the current flag only John Key’s submission guarantees fuel for roasting marshmallows.

    Observation 2: John Key’s is the least environmentally friendly option.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    *correction - Labour's referendum allows for voters to number their preferences regardless of whether they vote yes or no.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Grant McLachlan is a former Parliamentary researcher and a National Party campaign director.

    Grant McLachlan: The flag process is not New Zealand Idol

    Everything the National Party has done around the flag debate is dodgy

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Same guy yeah? Co-submitter John Ansell, the former marketing manager for the ACT party? That’s as clear an flag raiser as any of the slippery slope this country has teetered over. Our good fortune of getting a morsel like that in MSM only contingent on the fact his submission didn’t make the final four.

    We can see the self-serving progress from before the final forty were unveiled, then after the final four. We can even turn our eyes to read the response to the follow up of the follow up by Lewis Holden, National Party candidate for Rimutaka and head of the “Change the Flag” campaign, the marsupial extracts rodent from hat;

    What I’ve done – which Grant and John Ansell are well aware of – is make sure the campaign is neutral in the flag selection process,


    There’s none, not a dot, as far as the eye can see, no one in the public eye here except Nicky still remembers what the word means.

    In this tiny country, any industry, sphere or discipline you could care to name has or is being torn apart by egos the size of speedboats. By cronyism, nepotism, inequality, bias, concurred taste, this monster consumed by consuming itself. Those of us beyond the networks, off the beaten path, below the beltway with no stake, no fucks left to give, no money or interest to quest beyond the paywalls and little to lose.

    Both sides of the room were offered the kool aid and so many drank – so many.

    For a voyeur there’s a certain entertainment in watching the order in which the corpses hit the floor, some of theirs, some of ours. Optimists perch rooting for their stripe to retain footing.

    Everyone will be replaced.

    Many viewers have already long since quietly closed the celler door, preparing dinner.

    Chinese and US cuisine. Clean of the fetishists’ finger prints it’ll do.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to chris,

    Chinese and US cuisine.
    Clean of the fetishists’ finger prints
    it’ll do.

    Exactly where 'they' wanted you!
    Dry gulched settlers, acclimatising
    to our new masters' cuisine...

    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,


    hark the heraldry angles…
    Here’s another flag that’ll need to change perhaps?

    do we want our police to be so 'over frondly’…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    ‘they’ wanted you!

    I can’t pretend we’re not flattered.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to chris,

    With the recent poll, are the public flaggergasted.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to David Hood,


    Heh, I enjoyed the Herald’s choice of photo on the front page for this article. Polls!? Who need’s em.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Thinking about it, flagaghasted might be a better way of spelling it.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    One could claim that the poll methodology is flawed, e.g. self-selection bias. But that’s not what Key says. Instead he’s quoted as saying:

    it’s not a terribly sophisticated question because I could produce polls that look close enough to that, when it’s a yes or no question

    Is this just an extension of his usual “I can pay experts who’ll say something different from your experts” evidence-ignoring bullshit? Not exactly: he’s saying we shouldn’t trust the poll because my polls say the same thing?! Guess that explains why this process didn’t start with a yes/no referendum on change. Reckon we shouldn’t trust this pol, eh.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • chris,


    Labour’s proposed referendum

    It seems clear enough to me, in the accompanying article hosted by Mediaworks’ Newstalk ZB on the 15th September 2015 Andrew Little is quoted as saying:

    if the answer was no, then the money set aside for the 2nd referendum won’t be spent.

    If it’s yes, then the winner of the five designs will go up against the current flag early next year.

    On the 17th of September Mediaworks’ NZ Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevett briefly outlined the situation up to that point:

    Little’s response was that Labour would support it, but only if Key also changed the order of the referendums so voters were first asked whether the flag should change. This time round, he could be certain Key would never accept that condition.

    It remains unclear whether the Herald deputy political editor doesn’t understand the proposed referendum as reported by Newstalk ZB or has intentionally obfuscated.

    As stated above I complained to the press council about the misrepresentation as I saw it in these two paragraphs the Herald’s September 18th editorial:

    Labour would agree, he said, if the first referendum included the question: “Do you want to change the flag, yes or no?”. This proposition became tiresome long ago. People cannot sensibly consider a change of this kind without knowing what the alternative would be. We probably would not have adopted MMP if the 1992 referendum had asked, do you want to change the electoral system? Several different systems were under public discussion at that time and all had their advocates.

    But many who voted for MMP, or another new system, might have voted for the status quo in fear of a change to one of the systems they did not like. A referendum without a known alternative is biased to the status quo and those who call for one know it. The call is perfectly understandable from the likes of the RSA which wants to keep the existing flag regardless of alternatives on offer. It declared its position before any alternatives were drawn and it has stuck to it.

    Anyone paying attention might observe a clear discord between the Newstalk ZB article and the manner in which this proposal has been distorted. Labour’s proposed first referendum does not contain a conclusive option for change, it contains a veto for those who unhappy with all of the alternatives. If following the first referendum sufficient numbers still wish to change then the Government’s proposed second referendum would be conducted as planned.

    Despite the deputy political editor analysis that Labour’s refined proposal was contingent on “if Key also changed the order”, the actuality as presented by Newstalk ZB was considerably more nuanced if not conflicting. Likewise the Herald editorial’s argument that “A referendum without a known alternative is biased to the status quo and those who call for one know it.” is equivocation at best given that voting ‘no’ is a vote against all the options chosen by the panel. It’s also somewhat ironic to make such an argument given that this misrepresentation of Labour’s proposed alternative to the first referendum could itself be construed as political bias.

    The response I received from The Press Council informed me that I was first required to make a direct complaint to the Herald editor. I responded along the lines that if the council felt the article satisfied their standards of impartiality then there was no point me wasting my time with it. I feel my position should be reasonably understandable given this appears to be a concerted pattern of misrepresentation by the Herald on this issue.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    I mostly agree with Labour’s proposal, but there’s still one error in the form shown: granted, they are pretty much indistinguishable, but the Lockwood fern designs shouldn’t have exactly the same name!

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to linger,

    Well spotted. That took 30 minutes tops. Now if only you worked for the Herald they’d have been able to spin the proposal by spinning the actual proposal with a day and a half to spare.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to chris,



    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    This was after [Key] insulted the half of the audience who wanted to keep the existing flag by calling them not as bright as the ones who wanted to change.

    Is the now-quoted "mentally deficient" actually accurate? Or simply someone paraphrasing brutally?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Last updated 7 hours 44 mins after this Newstalk ZB article was published, Matthew Hooton is another political commentator who failed to accurately present Labour’s proposed referendum rejig:

    The pretext for the subsequent disagreement was around the order of the referendum questions. National thought an alternative should be selected first, and then put up against the status quo. Labour thought the status quo should first go up against a question mark, followed by a process to select an alternative.

    For accuracy, Labour thought the vote to retain the status quo should be carried out in conjunction with the process to select an alternative, followed by the selected alternative going up against the status quo or not as the case may be.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Is the now-quoted “mentally deficient” actually accurate? Or simply someone paraphrasing brutally?

    That's paraphrasing - I can't remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of "now we know who aren't quite as bright as the rest of us"

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    So, Red Peak will be on the ballot. But the status quo still won't be.
    I wonder if this is something the Greens and Labour came up with together, or is everyone trying to out-statesman each other?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    So "Red Peak" will be added to the ballot, if parliamentary manoeuvres this afternoon pan out as expected. Credit to the Greens.

    Good outcome, regardless of the avoidably messy way it got there.

    (I don't think it will win the first referendum, but still, that's now a decision for the people, not a panel).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

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