Gareth Morgan pulls no punches on the flag fiasco:
Gareth Morgan: Mangled flag process has lost the public
When the flag change campaign was first announced the number were 88 per cent against change. As the public discussion and debate progressed over subsequent months (mainly online) that resistance fell dramatically and just prior to the announcement of the final four, to down as low as just above 50 per cent.
But the failure of the Flag Consideration Panel to present any real choice to the public, coupled with the intensified campaign by the prime minister to push the silver fern down the throats of the public, has resulted in public kickback. In short a whole new group of voters have now decided they would rather not change than be forced to pick between one of John Key’s favourites.
It is a condemnation of the cynicism of the $26m spend of the public’s money to finance a Key political initiative. Many believe that third-term governments become intensely cynical and arrogant, and this sequence of events certainly doesn’t dispel those expectations.
Having preached the properties a national flag should have, having implored New Zealanders to express what we actually stand for, in the end all the panel could produce was three variants of the flag the prime minister favoured, plus one that is so disliked and meaningless that no competition was assured.
At the same time the prime minister expressed how “wonderful” the options were and since then has embarked on an intensive campaign to promote the fern-based flags. Every day, in every speech, he just can’t resist telling his audience how great it is. The public disagree.
So the public is rightfully upset and what we see now, evidenced by the latest poll, is that the “progressives” on this issue, who demand real choice and have called for Red Peak to represent that choice, have thrown their lot in with the “regressives” and the “middle” to oppose any change. The rationale is simple – the process will be done again in a few years without the cynicism of Key to contaminate it. We are headed to a $26m folly.
Given that 69% oppose changing the flag for one of the four shortlisted travesties, even Key has realised that he has a major fiasco on his hands. The only sign of genuine public interest and engagement with the process has been around the Red Peak design. After blocking, stalling, and trying to blame Labour, Key will very likely throw himself at the life-raft of this breaking development:
Flag debate: Red Peak may be included on ballot
The Red Peak flag may be put to the public vote – after the Green Party waved a white flag.
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes will seek the leave of Parliament to introduce the New Zealand Flag Referendum Amendment Bill. The Greens’ move needs the support of every MP in Parliament – however NZ First’s deputy leader Ron Mark has confirmed his party will deny leave.
That means the Government will have to pick up the bill for it to progress, and move it to the top of the order paper. Hughes said he was calling on the Government to put politics aside and agree. ….
Interesting move by the Greens.
Possible Red Peak breakthrough – there are talks happening between Greens and National, but it's at a "sensitive stage".
— Frances Cook (@FrancesCook) September 22, 2015
If it went ahead, Red Peak would be included as fifth design. No other changes to the referendum.
— Frances Cook (@FrancesCook) September 23, 2015
Talked to a source about chances of Govt picking up the bill: "I have a good feeling."
— Andrea Vance (@avancenz) September 23, 2015