Grant McLachlan (a former Parliamentary researcher and a Nat campaign director) recently spoke out about National’s well resourced and well organised spin machine. Last night he appeared again in The Herald, with some home-truths for National on the bungled flag process:
The flag process is not New Zealand Idol
Documents released to me under the Official Information Act demonstrate that the methods applied to reach decisions were more in line with a talent contest rather than a function of responsible government.
What we’ve seen are celebrity panel members choosing celebrity advisors selecting celebrity designers’ designs. Of the 10,000+ entries, it seems more than a coincidence that Kyle Lockwood, Sven Baker, Andrew Fyfe, Otis Frizell and Alofi Kanter all had multiple designs that made the long-list of 40. Considering that Sven Baker’s designs were so different – and most were of little national resonance – perceived bias is an obvious concern.
Judging an idea based on the designer rather than the quality of its content is an affront to our egalitarian heritage and has no place in the process to decide a national flag. Steven Joyce has attacked me rather than the facts I’ve raised , which demonstrates my point.
Everything the National Party has done around the flag debate is dodgy. Since Lewis Holden took over the “Change the Flag” campaign after Lloyd Morrison’s death, he became a National Party candidate for Rimutaka and guided his campaign away from Lloyd’s preference for a silver fern on a black background and towards Kyle Lockwood’s designs – which coincides with John Key and David Farrar’s positioning.
Perception is reality in politics. The perception is that the Flag Consideration Panel is a jack up. New Zealanders should feel violated and manipulated by the tentacles of Steven Joyce’s campaigning apparatus. [my emphasis]
On the subject of bias:
Steven Joyce’s former private secretary should never have been selected as the senior advisor to the panel. The Director of the New Zealand Flag Project, Kylie Archer, also has a CV that raises too many questions. Were John Key’s public statements during the process the result of information leaked from panel meetings?
McLachlan might also have mentioned that Julie Christie, one of the Flag Consideration Panel members who helped to pick the final 4 options, also sits on New Zealand Story, a NZ Trade and Enterprise body which promotes the Fern Mark logo. Probably just a coincidence that 3 of the 4 finalists features a silver fern then, right?
What they should do is start the assessment process again, call for submissions on the existing submitted designs, and assess all designs properly and objectively. … In the meantime, the first referendum should be delayed until March. Considering that most polls show that none of the final four designs are good enough to defeat the current flag, National’s pollster shouldn’t object to that.