Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A referendum on the flag?

John Key is thinking of holding a referendum on the flag this election:

Prime Minister John Key says he will consider changing the national flag at this year's election if there is a public appetite for it.

Mr Key said this morning that he would consult with senior ministers about a new flag, and would not rule out a referendum on the issue as part of the general election.

He believed a change was unlikely but he wanted to test the waters to see if the public wanted a change.

Good - its long past time we ditched the Union Jack and its colonial baggage. At the same time, its hard not to be cynical: in the past when people have raised issues of our constitution or fundamental human rights, Key has said "we must focus on the economy" (because he apparently can't walk and chew gum at the same time). Now with an election coming up and people needing to be distracted from growing problems of inequality, its suddenly time to have a big patriotic wankfest about the flag. Convenient.

And OTOH, there's this bit:
[Key] wished New Zealand's national day was similar to Australia Day, with shows of patriotism such as flag-waving.

And riots and racist bashings, not to mention the erasure of Australia's indigenous people from its history. I think we should leave that sort of toxic patriotism to the Australians and Americans.