How would Mallard know what people want?

In a column at Stuff Trevor Mallard talks as if he knows “what we want”, but he doesn’t even seem to know what he wants, apart from dissing an opponent.

Trevor Mallard: Flag issue about PM’s ego, not what Kiwis want

When it comes to a brand spanking new flag, I started the parliamentary process with an open mind.

I don’t remember that bit. He must have closed his mind quite quickly.

The time for change will come I thought. But the middle of the commemoration of World War 1 is not the time.

if you don’t want something to happen you can think of many reasons why now isn’t a good time.

John Key has written that seeing the silver fern at the Bledisloe Cup  game confirmed to him that New Zealand needs a new flag. I watched that game, too.

But something else occurred to me looking around the packed stadium of 50,000 people: you would need three stadia that size to hold all the people who are out of work under National.

That’s why so many New Zealanders are angry about Mr Key’s flag project. There are a lot of serious issues facing New Zealand but the Prime Minister is fiddling about with the flag like he has nothing else to do.

This multi stadia vision of Mallard’s must be quite new. When he was in the Labour Cabinet his responsibilities included Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for the America’s Cup and later Associate Minister of Finance. Financie and sporting events must have been a different priority then.

There are 148,000 people unemployed in New Zealand right now, up 50,000 under National. There are 305,000 kids in poverty, up 45,000 under National. Net Government debt is at a record level, up by $58 billion under National. Homeownership is at its lowest level in 60 years.

$26m wouldn’t solve those problems, but it could make a start. Instead, Mr Key is flushing it away on a referendum that Kiwis have clearly said they don’t want.

Mr Key wrote “in a sense, the people have already spoken”.

He’s right: Kiwis have spoken. In every forum and in the media, the public opposition to a new flag and the referendum is overwhelming. The fact that fewer than 700 people showed up to the Flag Commission’s multi-million dollar roadshow speaks volumes.

The polls are stark – 70% of us don’t want change. Just 25% do.

That’s just one poll, so it’s very misleading quoting that. There are thirteen polls cited here, with a range of results. The three option polls show minorities against change in all three polls conducted last year.

The vast majority of over ten thousand flag design submissions were serious suggestions, suggesting significant interest from Kiwis.

It’s as plain as day that the second referendum will vote to keep the current flag.

It’s as plain as day that Mallard doesn’t know what he is talking about – or is deliberately promoting false impressions.

It’s impossible for anyone to know what the result of the second referendum will be.

The point of a flag referendum is to ask the people if they want change. The clear answer is that they don’t.  Not only do New Zealanders not want change, they don’t want $26m of taxpayers’ money spent on a vote.

No, the point of the two referendums is to ask if people want change. Grumpy old politicians opposing change under a Prime Minister they don’t want given any credit gives far from a clear answer.

John Key wrote that he believes now is the time for us as New Zealanders to have the national discussion around changing the flag.

I disagree. This is all for a vanity project in John Key’s name. We should all remember the word vanity comes from the Latin root Vanus which meant empty.

I began this process with an open mind. My mind is now made up. Now is not the time to change the flag. It wasn’t at the start of the process. It certainly is not now, no matter how many times the Prime Minister tries to convince us it is.

Mallard’s mind was obviously made up a long time ago. He has been campaiging against the referendums and against flag change for yonks.

Mallard announced that Labour would oppose change in March – see Loony Labour line on flag questions – despite change still published Labour Party policy.

But his and Labour’s opposition to flag change the Key way goes back into last year:

Petition 2014/0006 of Hon Trevor Mallard
During our consideration of this bill we also heard evidence on Petition 2014/0006 of Hon Trevor Mallard, requesting

That the House note that 30,366 people have signed an online petition calling for the Government to include a question in the first flag referendum asking New Zealanders if they want a change of flag or not.

The petition, along with other submissions, supported the inclusion of an initial “yes/no” question immediately before the proposed four alternative flag designs to be ranked in the first referendum. The petitioner argues that this referendum structure would allow participants to consider the alternative flag designs to help them decide whether or not they want to change the flag. If a majority voted against changing the flag, then the current New Zealand flag would be kept. The petitioner argued that this structure could save money as it might negate the need for a second referendum.

If the majority voted to change the flag, under the petition’s proposal the second referendum would be a run-off between the current flag and the highest-ranked alternative.

The majority of us recognise that if this procedure were followed, many of those who voted against changing the flag would probably not proceed to rank alternative flags, and therefore not contribute to selecting the preferred alternative. We note that the 2011 referendum on the voting system used a similar structure, and more than 50 percent of voters who voted to keep MMP in Part A did not go on to vote for a preference in Part B.

The majority of us note that the petitioner’s proposed referendum structure was considered by Ministry of Justice officials in preparing the Regulatory Impact Statement on the bill. The option was not among the top four for achieving the goal of a legitimate and enduring electoral outcome. There are a variety of reasons for this. For example, for a change of flag to occur, a majority of voters would have to vote twice for change, both in the first and second referendum; whereas those opposed to change could prevail at either referendum. The majority of us believe that the petitioner’s proposed structure would bias the referendum in favour of the status quo. A further reason against the proposal is that placing a first-past-the-post vote on whether or not the flag should be changed alongside a preferential vote as to the design of a possible new flag would cause complexity and thus confusion for voters. We note that the petitioner argued against this assumption.

Some submitters argued that adding an initial “yes/no” question into the first referendum would save money. However, the advice from the Electoral Commission is that not proceeding with the second referendum would produce only very limited cost savings. Net savings would be $2.27 million (given sunk costs already incurred and additional costs).

The majority of us therefore recommend no change to the referendum structure.

So Mallard is misrepresenting the cost – the first referendum with or without his amendment would incur most of the cost.

New Zealand Labour Party minority view

We stand strongly opposed to this bill.

While we question whether there is a genuine appetite for a debate around the flag, this has not been the primary reason for our opposition. Rather, it is the structure of the referendum that we object to.

And when they didn’t get the structure changed (which would have been against expert advice) Mallard and Labour switched to total opposition.

The most consistent argument against this proposed referendum structure was that it would be too complex for voters—we consider this argument to be an insult to the intelligence of the New Zealand population.


Labour wanted to make it more complex.

Mallard seems to have forgoten about this “most consistent argument” now a simple alternative choice in the first referendum and a simple new versus old i the second.

Mallard’s changing arguments are an insult to the intelligence of the New Zealand population

How can he know what Kiwis want when he doesn’t seem to know what he wants, except to oppose key’s flag initiative? Petty politics at it’s worst.

Your NZ flag choices

I haven’t chosen my preferred alternative flag yet, but a number of commenters here have suggested what their favourites are. Here are the flags pointed out in comments in  Final forty flags.

Kerry Reed, Alan Wilkinson:

Silver Fern (Black,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Black, Red, White, Fern, Southern Cross, Growth, History, Landscape, Māori culture, Multiculturalism, Nature, Unity.

Silver Fern (Black,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Alan Wilkinson:

White & Black Fern by Alofi Kanter .

White & Black Fern by Alofi Kanter

Mike C:

Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern, Southern Cross, Growth, Independence, Kiwiana, Māori culture, Multiculturalism, History.

Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue)by Kyle Lockwood

Embrace (Red & Blue) by Denise Fung, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern, Koru, Southern Cross, Multiculturalism.Embrace (Red & Blue) byDenise Fung

Koru and Stars by Alan Tran, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Koru, Southern Cross, Peace, Strength.Koru and Stars by Alan Tran

Unity Fern (Red & Blue) by Paul Jackways, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern.

Unity Fern (Red & Blue) by Paul Jackways


Modern Hundertwasser by Tomas Cottle, tagged with: Green, White, Koru, Growth, Māori culture.

Modern Hundertwasser by Tomas Cottle

Silver Fern (Black & White) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Black, White, Fern, History, Nature.

Silver Fern (Black & White) byKyle Lockwood

I’d be happy with most of those. I think the fern is probably an essential element. While I agree that a single element flag would be best I’d go with a fern/Southern Cross combo as a compromise.

But I’m still pondering.

The full forty:


Flag Referendums Bill passed

The New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill passed it’s third reading in Parliament yesterday. Radio NZ reports:

Parliament passes law to change flag

Legislation clearing the way for referenda on changing the nation’s flag has passed its third and final reading in Parliament.

The bill was passed by 63 votes to 59 with the support of National, United Future, ACT and the Maori Party.

The first part of the referendum is expected to be held later this year, when voters will pick their favourite of four proposed flag designs.

As we know the process to seek and select alternate flag designs is well under way, with the top forty designs now chosen.

I find it odd that the legislation enabling this has only just passed. There has already been considerable effort and expenditure.

It was interesting to watch the twelve speeches in Parliament on this Bill.

Government speakers promoted the process, but more notably Opposition speakers spoke against the flag change process but didn’t look convinced by their own arguments, especially Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson and Russel Norman.

Bill English (National):

This Bill will give New Zealanders the opportunity for the first time ever to vote on the flag that represents them and their country.

Trevor Mallard (Labour):

I’m an old fashioned Parliamentarian and I think the role of the Prime Minister is to stand up in this Parliament and to state his views.I waited through the first reading of this legislation. I waited through the second reading of this legislation. I waited through the committee stages for John Key to get on his feet and to give his views.

He went on to complain about the lack of Key’s contribution to the debate – but kept calling it Key’s ‘vanity project’. There’s not only a contradiction on that, there’s also a huge contradiction in Mallard’s and Labour’s pro-change but anti this change stance.

And Andrew Little did not appear to speak on Labour’s contradictory stance.

Alfred Ngaro (National):

It’s disappointing to see that a member…to see that he’s come to a point where he knows and he’s agreed, in fact at select committee he agrees with the changing of the flag. He told us that. It’s in Hansard.

He said that changing the flag is the right thing to do, yet today in this house, to the open public of New Zealand he’s only opposing it out of spite.

Grant Robertson (Labour):

I’m one of the members of the Labour party who thinks that there is a place for a new flag for New Zealand.

But I’m equally a member of the New Zealand public who’s angry with John Key for turning a process…I, along with a lot of other New Zealanders am angry with John Key that a discussion about this, a discussion about out national identity, has become a vanity project for him, and there’s absolutely no doubt that that’s what’s happened.

Ironically as Mr Mallard says, the vanity doesn’t extend to coming to parliament to actually talk about the flag change.

They are trying to argue two opposites at the same time, Unconvincingly.

Labour are intent on trying to depict it as a John key vanity project – but Robertson did not look or sound angry. His argument sounded contrived and insincere.

Russel Norman:

This Bill is of course a classic form over substance Bill. So the form of course is actual pattern on the flag…so it’s really about some people saying they want to change the pattern.

But a flag, the reason why the pattern matters is that it actually refers to a deeper substance, and the deeper substance that it refers to is the constitutional arrangements of the country, ah that’s the thing that really matters.

Norman gave a subdued fairly passionless speech. He wanted to change much more than the flag – he wants to change the constitution along with it.

However the Greens have also campaigned against the flag change as not the right time to put any resources into changing anything while there are ‘more pressing matters’. To be consistent they would not want constitutional changes to be addressed until there are zero hungry children and zero damp houses in New Zealand. That’s never.

Marama Fox (Maori Party):

I think this is an important discussion, and it’s important because I absolutely agree with a lot of the objections about why we’re doing this, but actually I absolutely agree that I’d like to see a change in the flag, and I’d like to see a change in the flag because I’d like to see something that does symbolise our duality of nationhood.

Should we be spending this amount of money on doing it? I’d like to think not.

Should we have put a constitutional change first before we put a flag change in? Absolutely agree with that.

Constitutional change would be much more complex, would take much longer and would be much more expensive than the flag change process.

The Maori Party voted for the Bill.

Links to the all the speeches:

New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 1 Bill English
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 2 Trevor Mallard
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 3 Alfred Ngaro
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 4 Grant Robertson
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 5 Jacqui Dean
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 6 Kennedy Graham
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 8 Jono Naylor
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 9 Russel Norman
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 10 Marama Fox
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 11 Chris Bishop
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 12 Jenny Salesa
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 13 Nanaia Mahuta
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 14 Joanne Hayes, Lindsay Tisch, Tim Macindoe

Conflicting options for people opposed to flag change

I think the dual referendum process – choose a possible alternative first and then choose between that and the current flag – is sound.

To an extent this favours change over having an initial “do you want change” referendum but Key favours change and he called the shots. It would have been pointless starting a process that had a greater chance of not achieving what he wanted.

I think the process we have in place is fair enough though.

However it creates a genuine dilemma for those who are genuinely opposed to change (as to those opposed to the process for petty political reasons) – a presumably significant number of people simply want to keep the current flag. Some people are quite passionate about wanting to retain it.

The first referendum allows us to vote for our preferred flag from the four that will finally be chosen from the current short list of forty.

For those wanting a change of flag, and for those wanting the chance to choose between the current flag and the preferred alternative flag, the first referendum is easy – just choose the flag you like best.

But the choices for those opposed to any change are more complicated, They include:

  • Don’t vote in the first referendum and leave the choice of alternative in the hands of those who do vote. Andrew Little is promoting this option to try and get a less than 50% turnout so he can claim the referendum a failure.
  • Spoil the ballot. There are suggestions to write “none of the above” on the ballot. This would not be counted as a specific response, it would just be included in the spoiled count (there could be a number of reasons why and how a paper was spoiled).
  • Choose your least preferred option in the hope that if the worst of the four wins the first referendum it will be less likely to beat the current flag in the second. This risks ending up with a less preferred alternative flag.
  • Choose what you think is the best of the four alternatives and hope that the majority of people still want to retain the current flag and vote for that in the second referendum.

I understand how those who really want no flag change will feel conflicted on the first referendum.

My advice is that you do whatever you feel like doing, it’s your ballot, your choice.

At least you get an opportunity in the second ballot to make a clear choice for your preference.

Flag choice progress

The legislation enabling the flag referendums is likely to pass it’s final stages in Parliament this week. That’s curious timing, the process seems to be already fully in place.

The Flag Consideration Panel was due to release its preliminary list of flags from the 10,000+ that were submitted in mid-August. If they are on schedule that should happen in the next week or two. I presume this will be after the legislation is in place so my guess is next week rather than this week.

Once there’s a list of finalists (I think about fifty will initially be chosen) that should focus attention on the serious choices that we’re being given – media will have no excuse then for highlighting a few joke flags. Opposition parties should have less reason to try and divert and sabotage the process.

And we the people can have a good look at whether which designs should be included in our final choice of four for the first referendum.

With the process advancing I think most people with give the alternate choices serious consideration, whether they are keen on changing the flag or not.

The official website is here: The NZ flag — your chance to decide

Andrew Little trying to sabotage democracy

Andrew Little continues to devalue our democratic process in an ongoing two faced attack on the flag referendums.

NZ Herald reports in Second flag referendum should be scrapped if voter apathy continues – Labour

Labour is opposing the bill despite leader Andrew Little’s own desire for a new flag and its 2014 policy to start the process to secure that change.

Putting petty politics before principles.

“New Zealanders all around the country have told us now is not the right time to change the flag. Almost no one turned up at public events to promote it, millions of dollars were wasted on websites and postcards and a celebrity panel of experts.

“And now John Key is continuing to push his pet project through despite overwhelming opposition.”

Over ten thousand entries were submitted as alternate flag possibilities. Many of those involved considerable thought and effort.

We have a robust inclusive consultative and democratic process in place including two binding referendums, and Little wants that all scrapped on his say so.

If fewer than half of eligible voters take part in the first flag referendum the second should be scrapped, Labour say.

Little is using a binding people’s referendum to try and score points against John Key.

He is actively trying to sabotage a referendum for his own political purposes, contrary to his and his party’s stated policy on flag change.

I think this is disgraceful Andrew. You should be ashamed of this cynical abuse of our democratic process.

But if Little thinks things should change based on popular opinion how about the latest 3 News/Reid Research poll for Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Andrew Little 10.2% (down 1.4)

That’s a lot less than half – will you scrap your leadership Andrew?

I doubt you will do that.

But more seriously, will you stop shitting on our democracy?

Green hypocrisy on priority of referendums

Last term the Greens spent a lot of time, effort and money campaigning on promoting a referendum on asset sales. This was a costly exercise in futility because the Mixed Ownership Model legislation had already passed through Parliament.

Costly to the tune of $6.7 million dollars, for what was little more than an extended taxpayer funded campaign for the Greens.

Talking of cost the Greens (with Labour and NZ First) also effectively sabotaged the partial asset sales with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars being lost to the country – see Greens/Labour sabotage could cost MRP float $400m (that is for one sale alone).

In contrast this term the Greens are campaigning against referendums that will give New Zealanders the chance in a lifetime to choose an alternate flag and then to choose whether they want to change to it or not.

Two referendums to ensure we the people have a chance to decide.

Plus an inclusive process that has resulted in over ten thousand design submissions. Many people have put a lot of time and thought and effort into contributing.

But because it suits them this time the Greens oppose the cost of two  referendums that aren’t futile, referendums that give people a real choice.

New Green leader James Shaw was opposing the flag referendums in Parliament yesterday – see the transcript 4. Prime Minister—Flag Referendum

Shaw questioned John Key’s priorities – he wasn’t in Parliament last term when the Greens prioritised in using millions of dollars of  taxpayer money to campaign against asset sales last term, and possible costing the country millions of dollars.

James Shaw : Given that climate change submissions outnumbered flag submissions by 15,000 to 2,300, does he think that changing the flag was the right priority for him to personally champion?

Shaw was promoting a Green sham, trying to equate number of submissions with level of support. Key pointed this out.

When it comes to climate change, the member is right. There were 17,023 submissions received by the Government, but actually most of those were stock standard ones.

They were pro forma and they were prompted by the Green Party. In fact, there were only 1,485 submissions that were unique.

If we go to the flag—something of interest because it was the member’s primary question—he may be interested to know that there were 146,000 views of the New Zealand flag history video, that 6,000 people visited workshops and information stands, and that there were more than 850,000 online visits and about 2.7 million views of the flag gallery.

And there have been over ten thousand flag designs submitted – most of them individual efforts, may of them substantial personal efforts.

Greens seem to want democracy and don’t mind about the cost of democracy when it suits them, but not when it doesn’t fit with their own agenda.

They put a priority on a costly and futile referendum last term. And they put a priority on financially sabotaging asset sales.

But they oppose the Government working on multiple issues concurrently, including climate change and flag change.

Are Greens for or against giving New Zealanders a chance in a lifetime opportunity to decide on an alternate flag design, and then choose if they prefer that or the current flag?


Is the Green Party for or against referendums?

UPDATE: I posted the above flag on Twitter and @metiria responded:

Pete you do remember we campaigned for a referendum on asset sales and won it?

I’ve asked her if she supports the flag referendums and will post a reply if I get one.

Got one now:

If the flag is going to change it shld be by referendum not govt decision. But its not my priority for spending now.

So she supports the concept of flag decision by referendum but apparently won’t support the planned flag referendums if I read that right.

I’ve prompted her to clarify: ” I’m not asking about priorities, I’m simply asking if you support the flag referendums”.

support the use of a referendum for this decision. I dont support the timing of it or the use of so much money.

So that sounds like she doesn’t support the flag referendums but was happy to have our money spent on her own last term.

Shameful Labour campaign against referendums

LabourAgainstReferendumsFlyingYesterday Andrew Little upped Labour’s campaign against the flag referendums by launching a petty, cynical, shameful website trying to sabotage the flag change referendums. Putting petty politics before the people’s choice.


I’m usually fairly easy going with what happens in our politics, but this Labour campaign against a fundamental democratic process is really annoying me. I think it’s disgraceful, despicable. Little is shitting on New Zealand democracy by campaigning against something both he and Labour have previously supported.

They are putting petty politics ahead of giving New Zealanders what will probably be a once in a lifetime choice on our flag and our national identity.

Here is Labour’s anti-democracy anti-flag referendum website.

LabourFlagCampaignThat site is asking for names and addresses and for people to join Labour in opposing the flag referendums, opposing democracy in action, opposing what their policy supports – see Labour still campaigning against it’s own flag policy.

So I won’t be submitting any suggestions. But something I would like money spent on is a decent opposition, one that doesn’t oppose things out of spite, one that doesn’t put trying to score cheap political points ahead of people voting.

How much would it cost for an Opposition that doesn’t shit on our democracy?

How low can Labour and Andrew Little go?

Last week they dumped on Chinese New Zealanders.

This week they are dumping on our democracy, dumping on all New Zealanders.


Are Greens ignorant or deliberately misleading?

The Greens have made two misleading claims today, one of them being a continuing misrepresentation of democracy.

The first:

Does he accept that only 25% of NZers want to change the flag whereas 87% of NZers are concerned about #climatechange? – @jamespeshaw #nzqt

That’s a basic misunderstanding of democracy – or a deliberate misrepresentation of how democracy works. A binding people’s referendum is about as democratic as you can get and about as good a measure of what people want as you can get. Greens wanted one for asset sales, but they don’t seem to want the flag referendums.

We won’t know how many New Zealanders want to change the flag until we have had both referendums on the flag.


Given #climate submissions outnumbered flag submissions by 15,000 to 2,300, does he think changing the flag is the right priority? #nzqt

The number of submissions is not a measure of support, but the Greens seem to often claim it is some sort of democratic measure.

It doesn’t measure anything other than the number of people who saw fit to submit. Or as seems oftne the case these days, the number of people the Greens can encourage to submit Green cu and paste templates so they can claim an erroneous level of support.

The Green PR machine even went to a bit of effort to embellish this bollocks.

A #climatetarget for the 0.5% #nzqt

Embedded image permalink

The graphic is sort of correct – it depicts a proportion of submitters.

But the tweet implies it was against 0.5% opposition, but against this is just a measure of how many people the Greens and others motivated to make mass submissions.

The only way of having an accurate measure of support is via a referendum – but as the first example shows, the Greens choose to disregard them when it suits their PR.

Are the Greens ignorant of how democracy works? Or do they deliberately misrepresent it?

A controversial flag?

One of the 10,000 flag designs could get negative initial reactions but think this one through, and come back to it again after some thought.


A New Flag

This flag is intended to look forward rather than holding on to the past.

The silver fern on black is the most recognisable symbol of New Zealand. This uses the Kyle Lockwood fern design slightly rotated.

The use of a rainbow without specific New Zealand colours (silver fern on black covers that) is deliberate to signify a merge of many peoples and cultures without singling a few out.

The ‘Rainbow Waka’ represents the fact that all New Zealanders (ancestors and immigrants) travelled here from distant lands. It opens out to future options.

It is very distinctive flying:

SilverFernRainbowWaka-UrsulaGeorge-flying2And also stands out more than many flags without so much wind:

SilverFernRainbowWaka-UrsulaGeorge-flying4Disclosure: I had some input into this design but most of the inspiration was from my wife and has been submitted by them.

I’m aware that some see the rainbow as representing certain things now but I don’t buy that – the rainbow represents many different things, one being diversity.

This flag could be controversial. Or it could be ignored amongst many.

I’ve looked at many flag designs (and there are a lot of good ones) and I’ve played around with many designs.

I’ve kept coming back to this one because it really stands out, and many positive things can be read into it relating to New Zealand (aka Aotearoa).

If your initial reaction is negative have a good look, come back to it and see if you see anything different in it.


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