Prime Minister John Key has succeeded where a succession of tyrants, dictators and warlords have failed. He has done it single handedly.. He has made a mockery of the New Zealand flag.
His cynical pay-off to the long outmoded kaftan-jeans-and-jandals culture has made a laughing stock of something that thousands of living New Zealanders in foreign fields and with no thought for their own safety risked their lives for, and for which so many died for.
What began as a placatory gesture to the unquestioned voting power of the non-productive sector has turned into a ploy that has brought the flag and all that it stands for into disrepute.
The flag has now become an object of ridicule in public forums. Talk-back radio, which is today’s outstanding media-public intersection , is an example.
Radio Live host Sean Plunket in reviewing over 600 contributions toward a design for a “new” flag, and noting designs such as one showing a sheep licking an ice cream observed that maybe the Prime Minister’s project was “worth it” and “just because it is a laugh.”
Mr Key must now step in and put a stop to the nonsense which he has created. If he finds himself unable to admit a mistake, then he must step in on grounds in which his hand is somewhat firmer than in treating with progressives.
He must say what he knows, Namely that the exercise with its attendant referendum is too expensive. Which it will be.
With his mastery of accounting detail he has restricted cost estimates to just holding a referendum. In fact by the time the seals, the stamps, the stationary, the building and monument plaques, and the flags themselves have all been changed, then we are looking at a cost not unadjacent to $100 million.
Mr Key and his government were elected to make decisions. Not to demonstrably make vote-getting gestures to the small, but noisy, section of the population in the progressive niche.
He must step in and end this insulting and expensive exercise in frivolity. An exercise which in destroying the flag they fought for so belittles the memory of those who fought and died to defend it.
Most appalling of all was that the government-sponsored changing of the flag scheme was allowed to continue before, during and after the solemn commemorations surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign and the birth of Anzac.