The flag referendum isn’t political and other lies



The latest justification for Key’s vanity project is to claim that it’s not a political decision.

Flag vote not political: PM
Prime Minister John Key has pulled back in his personal campaign to change the flag in a last-ditch bid to get left-wing voters back on board as the historic vote looms.

Since announcing the referendum in March 2014, the Prime Minister has been a vocal crusader for change, making his pitch in speeches and interviews as well as wearing the alternative flag as a lapel pin.

However he has been less vocal about the issue this year, and admitted that was an attempt to try to get those on the left who might vote against change for political reasons back on board.

Labour has repeatedly depicted the flag referendum as Key’s “pet project” because of his personal investment in it.

“I’ve been trying to ensure the politicisation doesn’t stop people voting for the flag. For change to take place you need a decent number of voters who do not support the Government to vote for change.

“To get it over the line you can’t just rely solely on National voters because there is always going to be a contingent of National voters that just don’t support change. That’s quite legitimate – this isn’t about a political issue, it’s about whether you support change or not.”

That’s right, Key is claiming that we shouldn’t judge the flag change as a political event, we should do it for the aesthetics. It’s a spin line being parroted by the NZ Herald (surprise, surprise).

Audrey Young: Utterly simple vote hijacked for party purposes
Bear in mind that two years ago, when John Key first announced there would be a flag referendum, the reaction of the Labour and Green Party leaders was to welcome it and say that they too would hold a referendum if they won the 2014 election.

Between then and now the leaders of the left have persuaded their supporters to oppose the process, criticise the cost, condemn the timing, question the motives, mock the alternative, and to vote “no change” in order to embarrass a political rival.

The entire flag debate from the start has been used as a political distraction when ever the Government needed something to fill the media instead of critical analysis.

$26million is an obscene price to pay when we have 305 000 kids in poverty and children being sexually and physically abused in State Care. When state tenants are freezing to death in rotting state homes, when over 500 children are homeless in Auckland, when beneficiaries can’t make ends meet, when the Government is signing away economic sovereignty and when students are studying on the breadline – participating in a project that is designed to obscure those very issues is not only ethically reprehensible, it’s doing exactly what the National Party wants you to do.

TDB Recommends

Key’s Corporate Rugby flag represents the culmination of 30 years of neoliberalism. It represents a NZ whose creed is ‘me first’ where community has been reduced to the boundary line of the gated tribes we inhabit.

Poverty has soared in this country by a truly obscene amount…

Nearly one in three New Zealand children ‘living in poverty’
“Child poverty – it’s not choice.” That’s the message that outgoing Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills wants to spread through social media in a challenge to Government policy.

His latest annual Child Poverty Monitor, out today, says children living in households earning below 60 per cent of the median household income after housing costs, have almost doubled from 15 per cent of all children in 1984 to 29 per cent last year. Children hospitalised with poverty-related illnesses more than doubled in the 1990s and have increased further in the recent recession.

“Everything points to things being far tougher than they were 30 years ago. That’s not right in a country like ours and it’s not fair,” said Dr Wills, whose five-year term as Children’s Commissioner ends in June. “Today I’m asking New Zealanders to show they share our concern by spreading the message #itsnotchoice.

If they visit our website they can take part in a selfie campaign and show that we’re all behind the need for things to change for our kids.”

Political scientist Dr Bryce Edwards said the message was “a beautiful contrast” with Prime Minister John Key’s claim in 2011 that “anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice”.

…those 305 000 children in poverty is what Key’s flag represents. The triumphalism of distraction Sport becoming our National symbol reduces our flag to a branding exercise, which hardly justifies removing the blood drenched stamp of Empire.

Our crowded houses: Barely enough to cover the rent

An alarming number of Auckland families are being forced to live together in one house so they can afford rent and living expenses, a leading budgeting adviser says.

It comes as an ASB analysis of the New Zealand housing market released to the Herald today reveals that Auckland has a disproportionate share of multiple families living under one roof.

These families crushed into more and more overcrowded housing as speculators grumble that their housing portfolios are a little light this year is what Key’s Corporate Rugby flag represents.

To try and claim that the flag change isn’t political is Orwellian double speak at its most obvious.


  1. Just watch the polls and the hard-sell over the next few weeks as advertisers kick in to try and get Key’s fishy tea-towel flag over the line.

    There will be polls galore, mainly polls to landlines in National, ACT and Peter Dunne electorates and enclaves proving that the tide is seeming to be turning (or other ‘polish-the-turd’ adman inanities).

    The flag isn’t politics? Bollocks? TPPA isn’t politics either? Bollocks?

    Going to the Auckland Nines to wear the lapel Lockwood Flag badge? And the people booed him? It isn’t politics? It’s bollocks!
    Going to the Big Gay Out to wear the lapel Lockwood Flag badge? And the people booed him? It’s bollocks!
    And it isn’t politics?

    No it isn’t politics John.

    People have had enough of your slime and bullshit. And the referendum, like the Northland by-election, will tell you what people really think of you and your poxy flag. I hope people boo your presence at every opportunity and event right up until the next election, then give you a standing ovation – as you leave “for personal reasons”

    Good riddance to you and your corporate, neoliberal badge flag.

  2. Heh, I wonder if Martyn is taking a leaf out of John Key’s book and trying to distract us from the ageist boomer debacle by raising the flag debate?

    Seriously though, thanks for TDB Martyn. I appreciate all your hard work on it and the opportunity it gives us.

  3. Agree completely. The sooner we get rid of our lying pm , the better for everyone. We do not listen to him much anymore as he is so full of, as you say, double speak and a total lack of compassion for what is really going on here. We get angry just looking at his smug face and phony smile.
    He plays very dirty games, beholding to his puppet masters, and then everyone else pays while his minions bury their heads in sand and denial.
    “A corporation in disguise of a man.” This flag issue is a disgrace and yet another embarrassment and disappointment for our great country.

  4. The flag distraction is how the nAtional party got around not needing the services of Simon Lusk after Dirty Politics hit the bookshelves…

    Equally as deceptive, equally as ulterior, and equally as ruthless in manipulating the voting populace.

    Of course its political. That was the whole point of having a flag vote in the third term in the first place.

  5. Audrey Young’s hysterical tantrum-piece can be summed up thus: “Nice Mr Key’s flag project is going to be ruined by all those pesky lefties, because, well, because, they just ruin everything anyway!” She then tries to support her argument with total irrelevancies such as the referendum on the EU in Britain, and the time Jenny Shipley rolled Bolger.

    • Keith Locke on another thread on TDB is already blaming Labour and the left saying “ if people who want a flag change for good and genuine reasons see Labour and the left responsible for keeping the colonial flag then the only political victor, unfortunately, will be John Key and his National Party”
      I think Keith Locke is wrong, keeping the current flag is another political defeat for John key and his National “party”, shouldn’t Locke have said “government”? They certainly won’t look victorious. Locke should have noted that those who want a flag change are in a minority. The majority that includes both left and right do not want a new flag, particularly a deliberately contrived corporate logo for John key’s narcissistic legacy.

      • Yep.
        Here are the Flag Poll breakdowns by Party Support (various polls over last few months) …
        Labour Supporters 76%, 73%, 70%, 78%
        Green Supporters 60%, 68%
        NZF Supporters 83%, 66%, 83%, 93%
        National Supporters 48%, 50%

        Labour Supporters 20%, 30%
        Green Supporters 30%, 32%, 41%
        NZF Supporters 34%, 17%
        National Supporters 40%, 41%, 50%, 37%

        See my last two posts on Flag Poll results

        Audrey Young’s line that “the leaders of the Left have persuaded their supporters … to vote no change in order to embarrass a political rival” is pure spin. The idea that 70%+ Labour voters and 60%+ Green voters are all hanging on Little’s / Turei’s / Shaw’s every word, just waiting to loyally follow out their instructions is insulting.

        • Monday, on RNZ news, Key said that internal National Party polls should keeping the existing flag rated less than 50% amongst those polled.

          The options are:
          A. Their polls are correct despite what every other poll says;or,
          B. Their polls are incorrect, but given the amount not of money and competence they put into polling this is unlikely; or,
          C. PM Key has a tenuous grasp on numbers and trends and that was why he failed as a currency trader; or,
          D. PM Key lied about the figures to try and gain some momentum with National Party voters (Key’s status as preferred PM is lower than the number of those who would vote for National.)

    • Yep, I am going to be among the pesky lefties that ruin everything. Thanks for making me feel special Audrey!

  6. Anything coming from National/Act is a lie as they trade only in lies fashioned to meet their own ends.

    Great work Martyn keep it up.

    We all love your riveting program at Waatea but can we have Winston on it please to talk about the killing off of all our regional railways please as Northland and Gisborne/HB railways are both being now killed off by turning off funding to carry out badly needed maintenance to offer services so the roads are being clogged with trucks that are killing people instead at NZTA cost to the country of $4 million a death.


  7. This is now a good time to host Winston as he is an avid hater of the idea of a John Key flag, and Winston can also show how $30 for a flag while our rail is being bled to death of funding for a phoney flag?

  8. The flag referendum was one of Labour’s pre-election promises.

    Key is just pulling the rug out from under them, as usual.

    • Corrupt John key didn’t pull the rug out from anyone, all he is doing is wasting millions of tax payer dollars, and is wasting everyone’s time.
      BTW, it wasn’t a promise, and having a debate over changing the flag is quite different to having it shoved down our throats by John key, when the majority of Kiwis made it quite clear on National’s social media page that they had no stomach for change. The Labour party listened and conceded that this is not the time for change, so why didn’t John key listen?

      • Words, in answer to your question “why didnt John key listen”because John Key never listens he just wants to ram through what he wants without opposition.

      • I agree it’s a waste of time & money: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the current flag.

        If, in the future, we became a republic, only then would a review of the flag be necessary.

        If we were so foolish to change the flag, the price wouldn’t be the 25 million often quoted – you could more then double that when you consider all the insignia, uniforms, signs, flags, business cards, letterheads, passports(?), currency(?) and so on that would need to be changed.

        It seems even Mr Key isn’t perfect. 😉

        • Also note that organisations like Kids Can also use a flag in their logo that they will also have to change.

  9. On RT tv channel this morning, there was a discussion about the NHS (national health service) in Britain.
    The TTIP, their TPPA will mean the privatisation of health services and profit for corporation.The TTIP is being pushed through before Obama leaves office,just as it is here.
    John Key is determined to finish the handover of NZ to America before his puppet master leaves office.
    A top woman advisor in Hillary Clintons campaign resigned because she said Clinton is being coddled by the corporations,she is backing Bernie Sanders because she said Clinton will be a Goldman Sachs government.

    Key is determined to push the TPPA through in a hurry ,so that the privatisation of NZ will be complete.just in case he is deposed before the next election .
    Key has done just what the corporations wanted him to do when they put him into the leadership of NZ,hand us over lock, stock ,
    and barrel.
    National mps and supporters are as guilty of treason as Key.
    The Flag is all part of the corporations agenda, do’nt believe otherwise.

    • Completely agree ! ! Well said. Glad to hear others are tuning into
      Congress has the final vote and the US and Japan both have to go for it or it will not pass.

      • In the meantime FJK has been busy passing legislation that facilitates the TPPA. One of these is legislation making it illegal for NZ farmers to swap seeds or to save them from year to year. He has said he will not change this legislation back, even if the TPPA isn’t ratified. Clearly, he is a corporate shill who has given them the key to the country, OUR COUNTRY.

        • Too true Ann. And who would profit most from this? Evil MONSANTO, who have blood on their hands. That American corporation has systematically gutted that industry for itself, hogtying and indebting farmers not only in America but elsewhere around the world. Many farmers end up committing suicide. Example, farmer suicide stats in India are alarming, and Monstanto are to blame.

        • 1000% Ann you said;

          “Clearly, he is a corporate shill who has given them the key to the country,”

          You are exactly correct here, John fucking Key is a Corporate hired gun and no more than that.

        • Does the big block of farmers who vote National, have voted National since acquiring their farms generations ago know about this legislation? Not only is Key selling out New Zealand’s general citizens, but the voter base of farmers? Who will farmers vote for if not Key?

          Now that National under Key have betrayed them, farmers need to throw their support behind ACT, who have recently adopted more economically-minded Green wing. A vote for green-friendly ACT will certainly not be wasted by cozying up to the tinfoil-hatted left-wing.

          Green-ACT would support Judith Collins for PM once this flag referendum shows up Mr Key’s true colours and once the flag distraction clears the political debate, ACT’s green policies will be the next big political issue-du-jour.

  10. Why, why, why, did I open the link to the Audrey Young article? When I occasionally click a link like that, it reminds me why I avoid that grubby little rag routinely these days.

  11. Former Parliamentary researcher and a National Party campaign director Grant McLachlan: The flag process is not New Zealand Idol

    “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?

    Celebrity is not a substitute for expertise. Matt Holmes, the Nike designer formerly from Fisher & Paykel, has no experience or skills relevant to flag design (vexillology). In fact, none of the advisory group did.

    For a national flag, the advisory group should have drawn on the expertise of several vexillologists. Fiji did.

    Two leading vexillologists told me that they offered the government advice but were turned away. Several at the recent world congress of vexillologists shared similar stories.

    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.”

    “Everything the National Party has done around the flag debate is dodgy.”

  12. “Between then and now the leaders of the left have persuaded their supporters to oppose the process, criticise the cost, condemn the timing, question the motives, mock the alternative, and to vote “no change” in order to embarrass a political rival.”

    Not even true. (to it’s cost) the Green Party has supported the referendum by getting Red Peak in as one of the options.

    Apart from that, there have been a few opinion pieces like this one by Patrick Smellie below criticising the opposition for being “political” about water quality as if not only is not now considered inappropriate to bring politics into the public sphere by marches and booing and events, having a political point of view is now considered unjustified for political parties.

    “Among them: opposition politicians, whose job is to be negative, the Fish & Game Council, whose leadership equates knee-jerk negativity with independent advocacy, and racially divisive scaremongers who find acknowledging court-backed Maori rights and interests in water too hard to handle.”

  13. America is drowning in debt,thats why the trade deals such as TTPA and TTIP are being rushed through. Any country involved in these trade deals is subject to takeover by corporations because they need our assets to survive.The deals are not of any benefit to anyone except the money people, the 1% of which John Key is one,David Cameron another.
    In America a cashless economy is being enacted so that only electronic systems prevail, the governments can controll all transactions electronically.
    Read The International Man online he explains everything,about the crash of USA and what USA does today, NZ and other countries follow suit to the road of collapse.
    What the USA does with wars and takeovers need’nt be done where they have puppet leaders who will do their bidding in a controlled way with politics. What is hard to understand is the Mps involved, do they really know what they agree to, the sale of NZ to the corporations,dont these Mps have children and grandchildren ,are they only thinking of short term gains,? their childrens children will pay the price of the mps greed and ambition.

    • A spoilt of informal vote will only help Key.

      No other option but to vote for the the present flag as much as I dislike what it stands for.

      Key and the corporate transnational investor mob are toxic.

  14. Elle,

    We in NZ are also drowning in debt as our Crown debt is ballooning to over $100 Billion now by John key on his pet ideas like the flag, and giving rich and corporate’s all free borrowed money to keep him in favour like paying off a Saudi investor.

    He is sending us bankrupt so his legions of foreign investors can then come in and buy up all the distressed property owners farms, and remaining NZ business.

    Key was sent here to do what they did to Greece so be prepared for the key planned invasion of the carpetbaggers.

    • Agreed cleangreen,the debt is deliberate, arranged by Key to enable the lenders to call in the debt which NZ will not be able to pay,this leads the way to a bankrupt NZ,a bankrupt country is easy to take over,and people in this country still think Key is doing well,he is! for the corporations and himself.

    • Agreed cleangreen,the debt is deliberate, arranged by Key to enable the lenders to call in the debt which NZ will not be able to pay,this leads the way to a bankrupt NZ,a bankrupt country is easy to take over,and people in this country still think Key is doing well,he is! for the corporations and himself.

  15. Dear shareholders -re fern with stars: Unfortunately, the target stock appears to be retreating slightly, losing ground gained, and stock may be exposed to further declines. As you know, as treasurer, I’ve had a yen for this conversion. However, despite a sterling attempt to engineer a rebound , interest is flagging and there appears to be a run away from the market. Unfortunately, the probability of a fixed exchange is now looking increasingly in decline and encountering resistance to the planned rollover and settlement swap. Our only hope now appears to be a reduction in the opposing interest-rate. Our recent campaign has gained some traction in eliciting off-balance hedging, but there has been some unforeseen turnover due to perceived political risk, and there is now considerable volatility in the market. Unfortunately, having encountered a hostile market , due, in part, to my transparent attempt at trans-action at Coyle Park, there now appears to be little (shudder) that is likely to arrest what now looks like being a whipsaw.
    But never mind. I have a new project! I’ve rewritten the NZ anthem, and I think most New Zealanders will agree, at the end of the day, that it’s a marked improvement.
    “God of National, Oh! My feats!
    In the love of bonds we meet……….”

  16. John Key displays the proposed new flag in the window of his electorate office in Huapai. Therefore the flag referendum is political.
    I’ve noticed his billboard has been defaced too. I was quite pleased

  17. “Key is claiming that we shouldn’t judge the flag change as a political event, we should do it for the aesthetics”

    Dumb move John, the one thing I find more offensive than the blatant political manipulation is the ugly design.

    All other debates aside the lockwood flag is just hideous there is no way I could ever support a design like that.

  18. Its is obvious there is now a stirring of concern among the Key,campaign to change the flag,as the polls on the issue are showing a flagging opposition to a change.So much so, our despairing PM,saying the other day,as a off handed remark,people should understand that if they chose the alternative flag,it will not be changed until we decided to become a republic,and that is not going to happen in my life time.

    Desperate stuff indeed.

  19. Wish key and his chums would take the TPPA and the silver fern tea towel and f**k right off! …sorry don’t usually swear as a rule – but geez, give us kiwis break already.

  20. I was having a good look at our flag the other day and I must say I now find the Union Jack an outdated anachronism. however, the silver fern flag is a poorly drawn sports emblem and in no way represents New Zealand and who we are as a young nation. The Maori flag, Tino rangatiratanga, is the only flag which in my opinion truly represents New Zealand as a blended multicultural nation, which I believe is a philosophy we can all get behind and show the world how it is possible to live in a harmonious society.

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