Mainstream media Key apologists, finding the next political distraction and what the flag referendum really tells us


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How many mainstream media pundits does it take to convince NZers that Keys vanity project failure will have no political impact?

Apparently all of them.

Now the NZ flag vanity project has failed as a distraction, expect Key to start focusing on other manufactured issues to keep the media from asking real questions and public distracted.

Beneficiaries smoking p?

- Sponsor Promotion -

State houses smoking p?

Wicked campers smoking p?

Pandas smoking p?

Or maybe conflate a whole bunch of issues into one ridiculous gasp inducing ‘something must be done’. How about solo parent Jihadi Brides smoking P in state houses?

If we are finished with Key taking false flag literally, can we spend $26million on something important now?

How about those hungry kids in all those poor schools? They could do with $26million. If we’ve got a spare billion to blow on a bullshit stadium in Auckland’s downtown, surely we’ve got $100million per year to feed every hungry child?

I digress.

Despite the triumphalism of some on the Left, the margin was far closer than most polls had predicted. Where I differ from Curwen’s analysis however is the significance of this politically for Key.

National have lost a useful political distraction, and for once Key is not in the majority. That perception of being a winner is a carefully manicured brand strength of Key, and no matter how it is spun, Key is no longer invincible after this. The Dirty Politics revelations and mass surveillance deceptions might not have ended Key, but the muck has stuck and his optimism is fast being seen as arrogance.

That’s what makes the cry form the mainstream media puppets that Key’s loss doesn’t hurt him politically so disconnected. Audrey Young’s simpering column last night praising Key manages to make us all wish for the return of John Armstrong. Sure Armstrong was pro-establishment, but he never lowered himself to apologist.

The flag debacle proves one thing. Past the obvious distraction tactics, the rigged process, rigged panel and overt personal ego of a Prime Minister who wanted to sweep away old New Zealand for his own legacy, the truth is that a majority of NZers would keep the bleeding butchers apron and its stained history over Key’s vacant brand vomit of a weetbix packet with All Black product placement.

Key’s flag represented 300 000 kids in poverty, housing bubbles, wages going backwards in real terms and entire swathes of society living as wage slaves.

Replacing the old colonialism with a vapid new colonialism is no referendum.



  1. If the pro change flag people can shut up, those that are wanking on in the aftermath need to shut up too. We are all over it,

    • There is a damned good reason to keep talking about this stupidity and that is the complete waste of money used to prop up another National Party diversion.

  2. Brilliant blog there Martyn and very vivid thanks.

    The Government is lavishly gorging on our public purse like a drunken sailor alright while the province’s are going to hell in a hand basket at the same time.

    Our roads are breaking up under overuse of trucking.

    While they are killing our rail, stripping the rail track culvert maintenance budget that damaged the line for other uses elsewhere Kiwirail said.

    So Key and his sidekick Bill English said they cant afford four million dollar’s to repair the washouts they caused four years ago in Northern HB that has closed our rail line!!!

    At the same time Key goes on a trip to US and spends on new property in Washington, NY & Hawaii!! to the tune of another $50 million.

    Now they are pouring public money into four lanes roading at $32 Billion the Auckland Waikato-Expressway to Tauranga, all while the rail is dying.

    The Government will try again to rig the next election!

    So we need to ask for an independent review using our IT professionals as to why the Electoral Commission is using the easily hacked Python IT electronic voting Tabulation system that uses the secret”Source code” manipulated rigged system to change the election results after the paper voting process has been completed and sent to their IT processing consultant for the electronic voting counting.

    They use a secret Source code to process their counting and they can change the results then using a secret rigged source code that is usually only accessible to the contractor who they use.

    I have asked for the “source code” and so far they have not answered.

    I have also asked the electoral Commission if this same system will be used again during the next 2017 political election and hope we can find our IT folks to also come on board and investigate to help us out here.

    Here’s the stuff we asked and the websites showing the problems with Electronic tabulation systems like the one the Electoral commission uses called python.

    We recommend you watch this video as you may find it very helpful.

    Concealing (“Protecting”) Source Code

    The Python website even advises how the IT operator can conceal or protect the “Source code but we have knowledge the code cannot be accessed without the IT consent so if they falsely alter the election results they will not want to give you access to find the falsifying that was done.

    Some Companies that provide equipment & services for voting market leaders are;

    Are you using a consultancy company such as these or another similar, if so who is it please?

    Reference of Electoral Commission system of referendum vote counting.

    Can you confirm if the source code used in the flag referendum or your election counting process is not flawed in any way?

    Asking for HelpHow do you protect Python source code?
    BeginnersGuideAsking for HelpFrontPageHow do you …ource code?
    How do you …ource code?
    Immutable Page

    Concealing (“Protecting”) Source Code

    In response to the following question:

    “How can I truly “protect” the python source code we create for a commercial product?”

    First of all, it is important to distinguish between commercial and proprietary. The restriction is in the licence you use, not on whether the code is visible or not. There are numerous commercial products whose source code is Free (and open source) Software: various distributions of GNU/Linux fit this profile. In contrast, various free (as in cost, ie.
    “gratis”) programs are made available only as binary executables where the source code is not available; they are therefore proprietary products which are not commercial: official Microsoft add-ons and upgrades such as Internet Explorer fit this profile, along with other binary-only “freeware”.

    (Note that “freeware” should not be confused with Free Software – see the Free Software Foundation site for more information on what Free Software

    It is, however, assumed that the questioner would like to hide their code from the user. This article now discusses technical solutions to achieve this objective.

    Use Compiled Bytecode

    Python produces .pyc files when programs are run for imported modules.
    This bytecode is not trivially understandable by most developers, and supplying only the bytecode might be sufficient in deterring modification of the code, but there are ways to “decompile” the bytecode and recover a human-readable program. The decompyle program is probably the best known tool for this task.

    Note that .pyc files are not portable between different versions of Python.

    Executable Creators (or Installers)

    Tools exist which embed modules and a Python interpreter together into an executable, like PyInstaller and py2exe (see DistributionUtilities). These tools offer an additional layer of obfuscation over merely supplying bytecode files, since any decompilation of the bytecode may only take place once the bytecode has been located in the executable. However, unless additional processes are introduced to obscure the bytecode, it is likely that the task of locating the bytecode would be trivial for even the least determined inquisitive individual.

    Software as a Service

    Perhaps the most reliable way of concealing source code is not to distribute your programs at all. Companies such as Google apparently use Python and yet have no difficulty in concealing their source code from outsiders.

    Python Source Code Obfuscators

    Diligently using search engines reveals that at least three obfuscators exist which accept Python source code as input, and produce transformed code which is harder to understand. Transformations provided by most Python code obfuscators include:

    Rename your code’s internally used identifiers (variable names, function names, class names, etc.) to gibberish.
    Remove or alter comments and docstrings.
    Even if you compile your code to .pyc files before distributing it, these transformations should increase the labor required to reverse-engineer your code.

    Editorial Notes and Opinions

    This topic touches on several others frequently discussed. A common thread in comp.lang.python, for example, bounces between someone who sincerely claims to need some sort of obfuscation to prevent others from taking or modifying his ideas, and a gang of the old guard who ask precisely what the ideas are, who might take them, what would be the harm in that, and so on. One proposition often repeated is that the only safe code is that hosted on a remote machine.

    Commercial developers should perhaps consider the necessity of concealing their source code. In certain kinds of businesses, a good relationship between the customer and the vendor is able to provide plenty of additional value to both parties: extensible, freely modifiable code is arguably more likely to be improved and adapted over time, quite probably as a service provided by the vendor; in contrast, merely shipping proprietary products and attempting to persuade customers to upgrade, perhaps with the customer running the continuous risk of versions they already use becoming obsolete (and with no means at their disposal to, for example, recompile the code for new platforms or systems) may aggravate the relationship between the parties over time.

    .. . .

    [Futility of protection schemes–but equally for Java, C, …]

    Also see “deployment”.

    CategoryPythonInBusiness CategoryAskingForHelp CategoryAskingForHelpAnswered

    Ballot Image Scanning Sought as “Prospective Relief” in Pima County

    By John R Brakey

    As matters stand today, having strong evidence of election fraud is not sufficient to obtain legal remedy. Even if proof is obtained (such as a sworn statement that a computer operator had been ordered to rig the election and did so), a Pima County Superior Court judge has decided that the Court is powerless to act.

    In the years before electronic voting machines entered elections, paper ballots were hand-counted in public at the precincts where results could be easily and openly verified by public witnesses and the press. Now, however, American elections are almost universally conducted using private vendor-managed computerized electronic voting systems, and the counting of invisible electronic ballots occurs inside computers running unobservable software processes.

    Election laws in the U.S. were generally written in the paper-ballot, hand-count era long pre-dating the introduction of computerized voting machines. In most states, election laws allow only a narrow 5-day window to challenge questionable election results.

    That was a reasonable amount of time, when the laws were written. But today, given the complexity and unobservable nature of computerized vote tabulation, it is impossible to examine evidence and prepare an election fraud case within that 5-day period.

    That’s why the Arizona Election Transparency Project (AZTP) of EDA and AUDITAZ, is seeking graphic ballot image scanning as “prospective relief” to fix what’s broken in our electoral process, and protect the integrity of future elections.

    Graphic ballot image scanning can reliably expose attempted election fraud, no matter what method might be used to try to cheat. The following short video explains how.

    Mitch Trachtenberg Explains How the Ballot Browser Program Counts Scanned Ballot Images

    Read more:

    Subject: evidence

    and … Working With Data in the Browser Using python – coLaboratory.
    How Team Obama’s tech efficiency left Romney IT in dust ……/how-team-obamas-tech-efficiency-left-romney-it-in-d…

    1. Cached
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    How long does it take to master programming? (For hacking …
    Dec 15, 2015 – A Programmer is someone who can solve problems by by mani… … It also applies to people who modify things to significantly change their functionality, but less so. … So, To become Hacker its not necessary become master in Programming. … Python (programming language): How long will it take to learn …
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    Submit any pending changes before refreshing this page. … If you are a beginner, learn C through the book “Programming in C”, … Then it is easy to hack into some system having windows operating system and you can … aslo some glue languages like python are prefered ! …. Peter Flom, Active follower of the election.
    hangtwenty/dive-into-machine-learning – GitHub

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    Kibana 4 & Civic Hacking: Investigating Campaign ……/kibana-4-and-civic-hacking-investigating-camp…

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  3. The beach towel for a flag dreamed up by some guy living in Australia was what the selection panel thought the boss wanted. Well it kinda was but it was also kinda obvious to anyone but the Heralds so-called “Political Editor” that the process was so utterly compromised by brand Key that it was doomed from the outset.

    The myth and the bullshit that is Key, “New Zealand’s most popular PM” (fingers down the throat) was thought totally bankable has failed because quite simply he isn’t! The emperor has no clothes. And as for those AB’s who went into bat for him, fuck you! For those who didn’t, well done.

    Key does not unite, he is divisive. His contempt in parliament is always evident and to me the real face of this two-faced creep. National is loyal to its donors, no one else.

    Andrew Little, who is the nearest thing to threaten the National Party, is in for a very hard time now from Keys lovers in the media, in fact it’s well underway. Because someone and anyone not Key will have to be blamed.

    But still it was a fantastic distraction while it lasted!

  4. We wont know the real vote statistics but its suspected manipulation took place.The designer of the fern flag says he will wait for the rest of the votes to come out,suggesting the outcome could change. Maybe Key is hoping for a change also.
    Maybe the $29mill is not totally wasted, its made people aware of Keys
    sly arrogance.
    As for Audrey Young she is a total creep,always sucking up to Key,her writing on the flag retention is a disgusting peice of rubbish.

    • We are all being slowly set up by the Government + Elitists for control of our electoral counting process using Scytl a Barcelona based company with Billionaire involvements who have already inside 35 countries including NZ at the local body elections so far in pilot local body elections later this year in six regions.

      Scary stuff this is!

      A large Billionaire owned “electronic voting counting company” “called Scytl” HQ in Spain, (now connected to George Soros) is now entering NZ & 34 other counties seeking to take over the final “electronic tabulation” counting process of our election counting process, according to

      To retain any of our abilities to check if voter fraud is not occurring inside Scytl;

      Can we as citizens of NZ request a recount manually of paper votes at the separate regional voting precincts, before they bare destroyed, to see if the results are the same as the final “electronic tabulation” has been reported for accuracy ability to recheck those results – or check to see if any attempt of rigged election results has occurred?

      Quote; “Because most US jurisdictions require posting evidence of results from each voting machine at the precinct, public citizens can organize to examine these results to compare with SOE results. Black Box Voting spearheaded a national citizen action to videotape / photograph these poll tapes in 2008.

      With the merger of SOE and SCYTL, that won’t work (if SCYTL’s voting system is used). When there are two truly independent sources of information, the public can perform its own “audit” by matching one number against the other.”


      Source: The Western Center for Journalism, “Spanish Company Will ‘Count’ American Votes Overseas In November”, by Doug Book, April 10, 2012

      When the Spanish online voting company SCYTL bought the largest vote processing corporation in the United States, it also acquired the means of manufacturing the outcome of the 2012 election. For SOE, the Tampa based corporation purchased by SCYTL in January, supplies the election software which records, counts, and reports the votes of Americans in 26 states–900 total jurisdictions–across the nation.

      As the largest election results reporting company in the US, SOE provides reports right down to the precinct level. But before going anywhere else, those election returns are routed to individual, company servers where the people who run them “…get ‘first look’ at results and the ability to immediately and privately examine vote details throughout the USA.” In short, “this redirects results …to a centralized privately held server which is not just for Ohio, but national; not just USA-based, but global.”

      And although the votes will be cast in hometown, American precincts on Election Day, with the Barcelona-based SCYTL taking charge of the process, they will be routed and counted overseas.
      SCYTL itself is a leader in internet voting technology and in 2010 was involved in modernizing election systems for the midterm election in 14 American states.

      But although SCYTL’s self-proclaimed reputation for security had won the company the Congressionally approved task of handling internet voting for American citizens and members of the military overseas, upon opening the system for use in the District of Columbia, the University of Michigan fight song “The Victors” was suddenly heard after the casting of each ballot. The system had been hacked by U of M computer teachers and students in response to a challenge by SCYTL that anyone who wished to do so, might try!

      Nevertheless, in spite of warnings by experts across the nation, American soldiers overseas will once again vote via the internet in 2012. And because SCYTL will control the method of voting and—thanks to the purchase of SOE–the method of counting the votes as well, there “…will be no ballots, no physical evidence, no way for the public to authenticate who actually cast the votes…or the count.”

      The American advocacy group Project Vote has concluded that SCYTL’s internet voting system is vulnerable to attack from the outside AND the inside, a situation which could result in “…an election that does not accurately reflect the will of the voters…” Talk about having a flair for understatement!
      It has also been claimed that SCYTL CEO Pere Valles is a socialist who donated heavily to the 2008 Obama campaign and lived in Chicago during Obama’s time as Illinois State Senator. Unfortunately, given what is known about the character of Barack Obama, such rumors must be taken as serious threats to the integrity of the 2012 vote and the legitimate outcome of the election.

      Though much has been written about the threat of nationwide voting by illegals in November, it is still true that most election fraud is an “inside” job. And there now exists a purely electronic voting service which uses no physical ballots to which an electronic count can be matched should questions arise. Add to this the fact that the same company will have “first count” on all votes made in 14 US states and hundreds of jurisdictions in 12 others, and the stage is set for election fraud on a scale unimaginable just a decade ago.

      Perhaps Obama had reason for supreme confidence when he said “after my election” rather than “in case of” to Russian President Medvedev a week ago.


      According to the Berkshire Hathaway Business Wire “Through their successful deployment in Mississippi for the state’s Primary Elections, SCYTL and Election Systems & Software (ES&S) have demonstrated the benefits that their technology collaboration have afforded their state customers…” “SCYTL and ES&S have been working together to help election jurisdictions to meet the requirements of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act of 2009.”

      According to “The machines used in the 2008 South Carolina primary were ES&S machines.” These machines have quite a history.

    • Audrey Young is so bad and has so given up on anything resembling objectivity toward her John and her Nats, that she had to go.

      The Herald already have enough lickspittles doing editorials for National without their political editor further destroying what remains of their subscriber base.

  5. You missed the wicked campers and the pandas in your conflation. How about “solo parent Jihadi Brides smoking P in state houses, with P smoking freedom campers parked on their lawns, making the zoo up the road fearful of importing a species as sensitive as the panda?”

  6. In a recent edited version of an address given at The University of Sydney, John Pilger discusses propaganda.

    “The founder of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, described this phenomenon as ‘the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the habits and opinions” of democratic societies. He called it an “invisible government’.”

    The article is worth reading because it reveals what is occurring behind the plethora of propaganda and distraction world wide.
    John Key is just another puppet of the ‘invisible government.’
    Sail away, Saddy McSadface with your booty, to the island of discarded puppets. Mybe you could sail through the Marshall Islands and the South China Seas.

  7. Audrey Young’s praise of Most Arrogant and Deceitful Leader in his moment of failure is pathetic, but predictable, considering she is as blue as they come.

    Even though Young’s column was posted last night, today it has a number of comments listed, but in usual NZH manner, is closed for any debate, no doubt for fear of adding to the Exalted One’s already existing grief at being on the losing end.

    Interestingly, at the same time Andrew Little’s NZH piece on the way the flag issue was handled, is open for all and sundry to comment and he’s getting a considerable bollocking from NatzKEY supporters, obviously miffed at their Dear Leader losing to the existing NZ flag!

    Loving FJK’s smacked bum expression on his face at present. Good 🙂

    Now let’s roll out the pandas shall we? Preferably before Monday 4 April!

  8. Agreed, Martyn. What will be the next distraction?

    A false flag terrorist alert/attack is my bet. That’s a sure fire way of frightening the sheeple into absolute submission.

    • Perhaps an aerial attack on the Behive; using Bushtownian physics a two seater cesna or even a hang glider with an over wieght pilot after a big feed of chilly ought to be sufficent to cause the behive to clapse within its own foot print. im sure mossad and the cia have it all worked out with the news media ready to deliver the requied fear porn narative. Im guessing jks off over seas to get a pat on the head for his efforts.

  9. Yeah bang on the mark Martyn
    I wanted a special design that ALL kiwis identify with and speaks loudly about our culture and who we are as New Zealanders these two flags DONT!!
    Why cant we do that ,whats so hard about dong that ?
    If we could just keep self serving arrogant scheisters like KEY out of interfering with what is a serious issue and playing fast and loose with the democratic process in this country we might just get somewhere
    Maori have great artistic talent there must be someone out there that can capture and articulate something special and thats not the silver fern and black ! and doesnt cost the interest accruing on KEYS blind trust to undertake it
    We live in hope ……

  10. “It is not a failure to persuade because Key did not campaign heavily for change.”

    Pull the other one Audrey.

    Next she’ll be claiming that the NZ Herald didn’t campaign heavily for Key.

    • The left-wing, spurred on now doubt by that ‘bastard John Campbell’, so pissed off at being ‘constructively dismissed’ that they did a Mission Impossible raid and superglued a Lockwood flag on Key’s Mansion gate. – “New Zealand prime minister John Key makes case for flag change” was a left-wing conspiracy by Nicky Hagar. The 7.55 minute Youtube clip has been analysed by GCSB technicians and found to have been 7 minutes 55 seconds of individual 1 second clips of the PM, stitched together using sophisticated media software, only available in certain “Communist states”.

      John Key ‘did not, repeat did not have special relations with that flag’

  11. That Audrey Young article is baffling. Classic Key Derangement Syndrome. Apparently he didn’t campaign for a flag change?


    • Yes I see in the RNZ 5pm news Chair of the Flag panel Holden says quote ” things could be done differently next time”

      What next time i ask? Are they asking for their money back so they can repeat the circus all $36 million of it????

      Interesting times an election must be around the corner, so Martyn bring pout the National Party Car going over the bank as the wheels for off it? as it is a fitting time now.

      Happy Easter all.

    • Bloody Kim Dotcom’s fault again, every time Key spoke on TV, KDC hacked into the newsfeed and placed a bogus Lockwood Lapel Badge on Key’s left lapel.

      KDC chose the left lapel to put it on because it would implicate the left-wing parties in this countries who are nothing but sad haters ( and “scum” as Slater calls them.

      Key NOT campaign for a new flag, it was a left-wing and KDC conspiracy.

  12. “It is not a failure to persuade because Key did not campaign heavily for change.”

    Pull the other one Audrey.

    Next she’ll be claiming that Granny Herald didn’t campaign heavily for Key.

    Check out the comments though – she is being crucified by Herald readers.

  13. Who actually reads the herald? Nobody cares about people’s opinions anymore – not in the social media world, where they can give their own opinion – which nobody probably cares about either. Interesting times.

  14. What do the right do when they lose on an important issue that makes them look stupid?
    Easy, they just get their MSM sycophants to declare that they didn’t actually lose at all.
    Nothing to worry about then! Big sighs of relief.
    Same thing happened over zero hours contracts.
    National lost on that one so they simply pretended that nothing had happened and that they were actually pleased how it had turned out.
    It is a very easy strategy to adopt when you have confidence that most of the MSM will defend anything you do.

  15. Looks like Paula Bennett or Judith Collins will be the next National Party Leader, unless Joyce is interested. Looks like Key has had it?

  16. Looks like Paula Bennett or Judith Collins will be the next National Party Leader, unless Joyce is interested. Looks like Key has had it?

  17. John key threw all the lies and bribes he and National had at Northland, and still lost.

    John key threw everything he and National had, even broke parliamentary rules, and still lost.

  18. This is the way a proper election should be conducted.

    “Elections must be transparent to best persuade”. says a US study.

    Not this ranting and raving by the PM’s hand picked Flag panel today as a man named Mulholland is vowing to keep on forcing a new flag????? “Give it up Michael” comes to mind here.

    Chapter 5
    In addition to free and fair elections, democracy demands persuasive elections. Elections must be transparent to best persuade.

    They must be transparent enough to convince each stakeholder, with much to gain or lose, of the election’s legitimacy. In this thesis, I presented three lines of research to improve the transparency of elections.

    In Chapter 2, I explored the problem of transparent and trustworthy random selections for election audits.

    In Chapter 3, I proposed a logging subsystem for electronic voting machines that can replay its inputs and outputs while balancing the requirement for voter secrecy.

    Finally, in Chapter 4, I developed a new approach for visually inspecting large numbers of ballot images efficiently and comprehensively.

    The tension between anonymity and integrity, the enormous stakes, and the complex, non-transparent technology in use today make the voting problem hard.

    We can improve our confidence in our voting systems by auditing and investigating elections.

    However, for such post-election investigations to be meaningful, the procedures that support them, and the evidence that is recorded, must be transparent and trustworthy.

    Further, the investigations must be cost-effective to see regular use.

    The research I presented moves us in this direction.

    Enabling More Meaningful Post-Election Investigations

    By Arel Lee Cordero

    A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of ;

    Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences


  19. Mr Key you have recklessly wasted $26 million dollars of New Zealand Incorporated’s money, you are fired! Go back to your money trading at Goldman Sachs (another loser organisation that had to be bailed out by the tax payer).

  20. Whats the bet he pops up in Iraq, getting some face time and some publicity shots with the troops over the Easter break.

  21. Wasteful of tax payer money John key says “So my only request to New Zealanders now would be to rally behind the flag that’s been chosen by the majority of New Zealanders.”

    Well they did that Mr wasteful of tax payer money John Key, they supported the current flag by voting for it. Pity you refused to listen and continued to ram this farce that wasted tax payer time and money down our throats anyway.

    And while Mr Wasteful of tax payer money John key is being a downright arrogant hypocrite, he pulls out the patriotism card in a lame attempt to save face, and has the bloody gall to say to others ” To go out and use it, to wave it, to be proud of it, and to celebrate the fact that we’ve got an amazing country.” after literally shitting on it for nearly 2 years.

  22. The butchers apron and the wheetbix packet. Very accurate description. Yet that is what the smiling assassin ‘gave as legacy’ . Those of us prodded into the corner between one odium and the other; to tick the butchers apron because it was the least offensive design of neocon!
    Just as the steel mesh at heart of earthquake rebuild and lousy plumbing built into floors and walls puts our houses in peril, so too does this hoax of referendum represent choice.
    A poisoned chalice from our biblical mr. Key.

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    New Zealand
    Ten months, 10,000 designs, no new flag for New Zealand. What was that about?

    Prime minister John Key’s call for change was never a step towards a break from the UK. So it is still unclear why the NZ$27m referendum happened at all
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    Was the New Zealand flag vote completely futile? – video explainer.
    Elle Hunt

    Elle Hunt

    Friday 25 March 2016 06.28 GMT
    Last modified on Friday 25 March 2016 06.47 GMT

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    How many New Zealanders does it take to change a flag?

    It’s the 27-million-dollar question to which, after 10 months, 10,300 designs and two public referendums, we still don’t know the answer – because after all that, the vote was to stick with the same old flag.

    That this would be the outcome had been signalled as early as three months into the process. When the longlist of 40 designs was released in August, there was talk of “flag fatigue”, brought on by the lack of enthusiasm for the issue and compounded by the interminable discussion of it.
    In New Zealand, the flag remains the same. And so does everything else
    Toby Manhire
    Read more

    Outside the remote island nation, there is a sense that it has wasted an opportunity. From within, it felt from the beginning like a conversation that no one bar the prime minister John Key wanted to have. And even his popularity with the public failed to get his preferred design over the line.

    “Key opponents love to say that he does nothing unless the polls tell him to, but that’s clearly not always true,” says Simon Wilson, editor-at-large of Auckland’s Metro magazine. “He’s campaigned actively for the new flag, despite there apparently being no votes in it.”

    Calls for New Zealand to establish its own national identity by casting off the Union flag have been made every decade or so since the 1970s, but gained little traction. The issue of a brand new flag seemed to come out of nowhere when it reemerged in January 2014, when Key floated the idea of a referendum in that year’s general election.

    Though it was met with a mixed response, Key made it clear that, should he be elected to a third term, the flag change debate would be a priority.

    His enthusiasm for the issue not only set up his detractors to oppose it simply on principle, but also seemed at odds with his public persona of “relaxed everyman”. That unflappable, Teflon-esque quality is both a reason for his popularity and a reflection of it. In the lead-up to the 2014 election, Key weathered a high-profile exposé of National’s attack politics by claiming he hadn’t read the book. The dog didn’t eat his homework – he just didn’t do it.

    In September of that year, he was re-elected with an outright majority. Details of the flag referendum were announced soon after.

    It was never tied to a question of New Zealand becoming a republic, or even of relaxing its ties with the United Kingdom, both of which the self-described monarchist Key is against.

    His principal argument was the “sheer confusion” over the similarity between Australia and New Zealand’s flags. “Around the world, people get terribly confused,” he said in an official video calling for change. “You can see pictures of me in the newspaper … [where] they’ve got me in front of an Australian flag.”
    This is actually an Australian flag, with John Key.
    This is actually an Australian flag, with John Key. Photograph: David Williams/AAP

    Australia’s then prime minister Tony Abbott had the same problem, Key added: “There’s lots of stories about that.”

    Key’s enthusiastic campaigning for a new flag for no more compelling or timely reason than he was sometimes asked to stand before an Australian one struck some as a preoccupation with legacy-building. With his stated preference for a silver fern, it was seen as no surprise when it featured on three of the four shortlisted designs.

    In late February, two-thirds of those surveyed by research firm UMR – and 47% of Key’s National party voters – agreed that the referendum had been “a distraction and a waste of money”, and that “New Zealanders should send John Key a message by voting for the current flag”.

    The preliminary result announced on Thursday showed that 1.2 million people – more than 56% of those who voted – did just that.

    Key admitted to being a “bit disappointed”, but rejected suggestions that the process had been a waste of time and money, insisting it had sparked a valuable conversation about what New Zealand “stood for”.

    But the majority of voters wanted to keep the current flag, and that would have to be honoured, he said.

    “My only request to New Zealanders now would be to rally behind the flag that’s been chosen … to go out and use it, to wave it, to be proud of it, and to celebrate the fact that we’ve got an amazing country.”

    Plus, he said repeatedly, the result “was much closer than everyone predicted”. The official result is expected to show round about a million votes for Lockwood’s alternative design when it is confirmed next week.

    More than just a failed reform in a temperamentally conservative country, political commentator Morgan Godfery said the result reflected insecurity over New Zealand’s place in the world.
    New Zealand votes to keep its flag after 56.6% back the status quo
    Read more

    With home ownership out of reach for many in the main centres, dairy prices plummeting, and increasing migration transforming New Zealand “from a cosy little British outpost to an energetic member of the Asia Pacific region”, key cultural touchstones are under threat or increasingly irrelevant, he said.

    “When confronted with such tremendous changes, is it any wonder an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders are discovering new affection for a fixed symbol of national certainty, the union jack?”

    The referendum result does not necessarily reflect enduring ties to Britain or even fear of change. It does show that 67.3% of New Zealanders who were able to vote did so, and almost 57% of them preferred the current design to Lockwood’s.

    Incredibly, it is still not known how much support there is for a change of flag after an extensive and expensive process exploring exactly that question. It was not asked in the first referendum, which polled New Zealanders for their favoured design from the shortlist, nor the second, which was a straight choice between the current flag and the fern.
    The four shortlisted alternative flags: quite fern-heavy.
    The four shortlisted alternative flags: quite fern-heavy. Photograph:

    From a one-tick postal vote, it is not possible to know how many people eventually voted for the current flag – or abstained from voting at all – simply because they didn’t like the proposed alternative.

    Key repeated throughout those 10 months that this was New Zealand’s one chance at a new flag. It is hard to say whether that is true. Re-examining ties to the Commonwealth (which was never part of the flag change debate) could result in the removal of the union flag element. For now, at least, it is off the table.

    “Absent some major change – like becoming a republic, or joining Australia – New Zealanders won’t be asked about the flag again for at least 15 years, and probably significantly longer,” said Graeme Edgeler, an electoral law expert and blogger. “My advice for those who want a change is to decide on an alternative they like, and start flying it now.”

    The most immediate question is whether the expense and extent of Key’s campaign to change the flag will affect his popularity. But commentators predict that the whole sorry saga will slide right off him, just as the reports of National’s “dirty politics” did.
    New Zealand’s decision on the flag has lessons for Britain’s EU referendum
    Martin Kettle
    Martin Kettle
    Read more

    Edgeler points out that this is the third time a position publicly held by Key has been defeated by public opinion at a referendum: the first was on a law that criminalised smacking children; the second, his government’s asset sales program. “Although the prime minister is more personally connected to this issue than those, I can see no reason why most voters would see this as a vote about Key, or National, rather than a vote about the flag.”

    Godfery also doubts that it will damage Key’s personal popularity. “But it’s an embarrassing defeat and undermines his credentials as a campaigner, the bloke who could convince you to sell both kidneys over a pint – yeah, that guy doesn’t exist any more.”

    David Farrar, a pollster close to Key who has worked for the National party, predicts that the result will do little to dent the prime minister’s popularity. The referendum has had a polarising impact, increasing levels “of hatred or derangement about him from the left”, but not necessarily swinging votes, he says.

    “Likewise, unhappiness over the cost has been an issue for quite a few, but that’s been known for over a year and has not impacted the polls significantly,” he said. “While it’s never great to be on the losing side of any vote, the impact of the referendum has already occurred.”
    Alternative – rejected – suggestions for the new flag, designed as part of a competition run by the New Zealand government.
    Alternative – rejected – suggestions for the new flag, designed as part of a competition run by the New Zealand government. Photograph:

    Support for National averaged 48% last month in the public polls, just one percentage point down on February last year; one poll shows that 61% believe the country is heading in the right direction.

    “Nothing means anything to Key,” said Steve Braunias, a journalist and commentator who wrote a book, Madmen: Inside the Weirdest Campaign Ever, on the 2014 election. “He will – as they say, and as he says all the time – move on.”

    Key does look set to move on from the entire episode as though it never happened. By all appearances – every flagpole, uniform, driver’s licence – it didn’t.
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    “At 7.00am on a Saturday morning in August 1988, David Lange launched “The Reform of Education Administration in NZ – Tomorrow’s Schools.” These changes were based on the” Picot Report – Administering for Excellence” which had been released earlier in the year.”

    Well, well, well, here we have the distillation of the excellence of Tomorrow’s Schools: a generation that could not design its way out of a cowshed. The main image of the dead fish skeleton crossed with a bunch of bananas, says it all. The dominance of black, the colour of denial (Max Luscher) over dark blue, the colour of quiet thought and reflection, with white, the colour of obsession, in between is also illuminating of the minds of its progenitors. An obsessive denial of intelligent thinking, with flashes of anger in the firmament. How much more totally on the money can you get than that, as an expression of the essence of a government with no vision, of either the future or the past, lead by a man whose notion of the future extends as far as that of a futures market speculator.

    That NZ has told the said money-grub to shove his gauche, re-branding flag where the sun does not shine speaks of great hope for a Keyless future of a nation he has done his damnedest to sell down the river to the carpetbagging classes.

    Three cheers for the death of the expression of a dead idea.

    As the Arctic methane emergency gathers force and threatens to terminate all life on earth as we know it, us included, we can do without the distraction of infantile projections of blind babies.

  24. It was an exercise in patriotism. It didn’t matter to the National overlords which flag won, they’ve basically said so in a recent article in the Herald. The point of the whole TPP-related patriotic spin exercise was to “talk about who we are” etc, etc. Key says this in an article. Aka, make a patriotic statement about ourselves through the “flag debate”, while the TPP is going through and weakening the notion of “national boundaries”.
    That’s pretty obvious, but I think the bit that wasn’t necessarily that obvious is that they really didn’t care which flag won, the point was to “satiate” the New Zealanders’ perception of themselves, their patriotism, as the TPP passes into reality. Having “re-affirmed” our identity – they no doubt took the punt that we would, I mean, those flags were f*****, weren’t they, we will now roll over and go to bed, satisfied that we “know who we are” and have said so, and the TPP will just pass into legislation and we become the American outpost, by law. But, hey! We knows who we are! We’ve said so, because we kept the flag!
    A very cynical use of the tax dollar and contemptible deception of the NZers.

  25. The Flag Referendum was just one big “Red Herring” to get NZers thinking about something totally unimportant and is a distraction from major issues like, overseas debt, Asian Immigration, child poverty, unemployment.

    Crosby Textor will have something in the pipeline, New Stadium Auckland?

    • like all the TV programmes, The Batchelor, Masterchef ad nauseum, as Edward J Morrow so clearly predicted:
      “We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.”

  26. Lots more things for us to turn our attention to. Flag stuff is over, how about we just sign it off with a “Key’s fern flag was beaten black and blue”.
    Still stuns me that so few saw that particular symbolism

  27. Audrey young is a distraction tool of Crosby Textor also possibly?

    That means the NZ Herald is linked to Crosby Textor Propagandist In’c machine also?

    • Chester Burrows is a senior National MP and ran over a protestor recently and may be up in from of the dock we hear?

      • Key, Joyce and the others got the flag referendum all wrong. If they had asked the right question first, then Key would have hosed in as saviour on a white horse with a Lockwood flag draped around his neck and on his lapel.

        They were too worried about the public saying “No!” to a flag change and they absolutely stuffed up the process, that John Key then tried to rig in his own favour, with a panel weeing themselves to give the PM what he wanted – ‘a fern, and something black in it, but not too much black because it will look like an ISIS flag’.

        Stuff got it right with this gem of Marketing 101 referendum process, that distinguished it from Key 101 referendumb”

        The sad thing is that, despite two national referendums, we won’t actually have a single electoral statistic that tells us how many Kiwis support a change of flag. It wasn’t asked in the first referendum. It wasn’t asked in the second referendum.

        When you learn market research 101 at university, or from any other training provider, you are taught very early on to be clear on the research answers you want at the end of the process so you can ensure you ask the right questions up front.

        The fact that after two referendums, and $26 million, we won’t have this basic statistic is utterly inexcusable, and the people involved for such a blunder must be held to account. After all, a first year student working in isolation wouldn’t have made this mistake. Never mind it’ll come out of taxpayer money again. Geoff Nealgot it absolutely right.

        So now that they lost a shoe-in winner for Key to show his business acumen.

        Poor old Chester Borrows has to “take one for the team and run someone over,” to distract 56% +++ of New Zealand from Key’s overwhelming defeat of “Key’s fishy fleg”?

        Fishy if you ask me? Couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery would be the response.

    • Shades of a new round of put up sexual allegations no doubt as UK did prior to their last election last year.

      Hey shouldn’t Key be also in the dock for repeated unwanted advances to tony tailed girls their must be lots of them by now???????

      Lets see if the retiring Governor General has enough balls to order him there?????

  28. Anyone who thinks this referendum wasn’t Key’s personal vanity project is being a bit too disingenuous.

    It was Key’s legacy and it flopped. For Audrey Young to suggest otherwise assumes we’re gullible fools. Yeah, nah.

    • John key’s media/blogger mates treat NZers like we are fools and idiots. Despite all that has happened, it still hasn’t occurred to them yet, that it is they who are the fools and idiots. And the longer they continue to treat the rest of us with such utter contempt, the resulting backlash will only grow stronger and larger.

  29. John key is a real American, he loves his American home in Hawaii. Hawaii has a Union Jack on its flag.

  30. Have just read Ms Young’s column…

    1. It is a sad reflection on her supposed non-partisanship, in that she comes out “batting” for Key. (There’s no analysis, just comforting our esteemed Dear Leader.)

    2. She has effectively “flipped the bird” at the will of the people (this was a democratic vote, right?)

    3. Ms Young should have waited; reflected; and re-read her piece before submitting it for publication. It simply comes across as the petulant foot-stomping of a spoiled brat who has not got her own way.

    This is not one of Ms Young’s better-written pieces.

    No wonder comment-posting has been de-activated, with the note; “Debate on this article is now closed”.

    The criticism levelled at Ms Young was getting too much for the Herald.

    So much for “freedom of the press”, it seems.

  31. NZ has stark similarities to North Korea, if Audrey does not keep praising our Dear Leader JK she will be sent to the gulag or the Salt Mines in Siberia, similar to John Campbells demise?

  32. So what was this about? Repeated in comments = distraction!
    Splendid, sheeples! Are you waking up? Still a little drowsy? The flag you got is the flag you’ve chosen. It does not matter; it was a distraction. Wait for the next one and then the doozy! You’ll be bored and sleepy and in wiil slide “4th World Agenda”: ‘Agenda 2030’.
    NZers who’ve had it so good for so long, and don’t know it, will be allowed to live on stilts off the coast. This generous self sacrifice will make room for the worlds poor, hungry and dispossessed. A heaving mass of tuberculosis, leprosy and fungal skin diseases that would make a chameleon green with envy.
    And talking about Mass Immigrants, [67,000 p a], how many of these would have voted for a new flag to make them feel comfy amongst Racist NZers? The numbers are skewed?
    Before going back to sleep, stay awake to read this site.
    @ modern amendments to Edward Bernays, [ kin of Freud]

  33. Will be interesting to see what the police and electoral Commission have to say about those who tried to game the system in John key’s favour? Will they get off like a number of people did when they broke electoral law in the 2014 general election?

    • Yes – yes – yes Cemetery- a brilliant idea to show up the ignorance and callous actions of NZ Natz supporters. And if John Keys Olympic Sports puppets want to drape this loser of a flag around their shoulders in Rio – let them also remember what it promotes – John Keys broken down

  34. doesn’t mention a word about kids in poverty, not the dysfunctional one-dimensional economy, not thousands of people needing adequate housing….etc.
    No, what thinks is most important is John Key’s five biggest regrets about the flag.
    This shows the priorities of a Fairfax infotainment channel devoted to the cult of a dysfunctional egomaniac Prime Minister and his slobbering toadies.

  35. One thing I did notice when the PM was speaking after the flag results had come through, was that he hoped we would display our flag more in public places etc, to be proud of it. He wished there were more flags displayed about the place. He is so American, I think he wishes that everybody had a flag pole outside their house and flew the flag like they do in the States. I didn’t realise just how Americanised he is. The flag, if he had been able to choose it himself personally would have signified us as a new state of the USA. He spent too many years there and still has allegiance to them. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was put here as a mole for them.

    • Agreed. Key was groomed to do what he has done. Key is an American, and not just in thought and bahaviour either. He’s an American citizen, he wouldn’t have been able to work in the industry in America without it. Every attempt to find out Key’s actual status has been blocked by the the Justice department, so key does have something to hide that he doesn’t want the people of NZ to know about. If Key has dual citizenship, what’s the problem? Russell Norman had dual citizenship; maybe Key’s handlers thought it would be a bad look that doesn’t gel with that false average Kiwi bloke persona, that in reality, only the rich can have a beer with? But if he gave up NZ citizenship, then he has acted illegally and should have never been in parliament, let alone a PM.

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