How the flag referendum got hit by partisan voting

April 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

flagvote

Thomas Simpson blogs:

However interestingly enough there seems to be another factor which acts as an even stronger predictor of support for the fern – namely the proportion of the party vote received in the 2014 election by the National Party.

The coefficient on NAT is statistically significant at a 1% level but neither of the other two factors are. As a result it may be the case that the apparent association of young people with the old flag is an artifact of a correlation between youth and not supporting National. Obviously there are many more uncontrolled for factors which could be correlated with supporting National and voting for the new flag – but the strength of the correlation and the apparently weak explanatory power of the other factors has me wondering whether New Zealand missed a chance to have a proper discussion on a change to how we present our identity as a result of party politics.

It was meant to be about the flag, but some chose to campaign against their own election policy and make it a partisan issue.

Why the flag vote was for the status quo

March 24th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Later today we will get the results of the flag referendum. I have little doubt the current flag will win comfortably. If I’m wrong, I’ll be very happy, but I don’t think I am.

As I’ve got better things to do at the start of Easter long weekend than wait for the results and write the blog post tonight, I’m doing it in advance. Why do I think the status quo won.

First of all, let me say that it is very possible that regardless of all the factors, it is more than likely the vote would have been for the status quo. There has never been a poll showing a majority for change, and few if any countries have ever ever voted to change their flag. It is normally done by fiat from Government, or as a result of constitutional change such as becoming independent.

I’m proud of the fact we are one of the few countries where we have actually got to have a vote on what our flag will be.

However it may have been a lot closer than what the actual result will be. A number of factors basically doomed any chance there was of a change. Here’s what I think they were:

Partisan Politics

If the referendum had not been been advocated by John Key, then it might have gone very differently – say if it has been a CIR.

But the parties of the left were so obsessed with a chance to give Key a loss, than they did everything possible to ensure a no vote.

Almost universally it is the more progressive side of politics that is keenest to throw away colonial symbols.  You would normally expect the biggest support to be from the Greens, then Labour, then National, then NZ First. NZ First as a nationalist party was always going to oppose any change. But look at how Green and Labour MPs declared they would vote.

Only one Green MP out of 14 and one Labour MP out of 32 are backing a change. This is purely because they see the referendum as about bashing up Key, not the best flag for NZ. It is impossible that 44 out of 46 left wing MPs really prefer a flag with the union jack over one with the silver fern.

And their supporters have gone along. If you are on the left and support a flag change, you get monstered on social media. Anyone supporting a flag change gets vile messages on social media.

Normally I would say support and opposition for a flag change would be approx:

  • National: 35 for/65 against
  • Labour 70 for/30 against
  • Greens 80 for/20 against

Instead I’d estimate support and opposition is around:

  • National 55/45
  • Labour 25/75
  • Greens 30/70

So the maths is simply impossible. National voters are divided more or less equally (Key in favour has shifted some to favour) but Labour/Green voters are almost block voting against. Unless National voters backed it 75/25 it can’t pass.

The Process

Overall the process was very sound. I do have some niggles, but the Government did everything possible to have it non partisan. Basically it was:

  1. Form a cross-party group open to all parties
  2. Have them decide broad process and nominate independent panel
  3. Select panel and have them run detailed selection process

Labour created a nonsense campaign that there should be a yes/no vote before you know what the alternate design is. This was bonkers but created lots of noise to have a backlash against the process. It is bonkers because it is impossible for peopel to vote to change the flag without knowing the alternative.

Eventually this will bite Labour as it means they can now never ever in the future hold a flag referendum without having a yes/no vote at the beginning, which will automatically fail. In fact I think there is no prospect of there ever being another referendum until NZ becomes a republic.

But I do have one significant criticism of the process. It was around selecting the short-listed flags.

I would have had the panel select three of the four (or five) flags and have them run a public “poll” to decide the 4th and/or 5th designs. They’s day these are the three we have selected and you select the last one or two. People could vote on their website, on Facebook, on twitter, via e-mail, via text. This is how flags like Red Peak could have got into the 1st referendum without a law change.

The fact the voting isn’t scientific doesn’t matter – it is only choosing one or two extra options for the referendum. If they don’t have the most support, they wouldn’t get through to the 2nd referendum. If one of them won, then it would shaw they should have been there.

I think if the panel has done that, it would have resulted in a much greater sense of ownership of the options put forward for the first referendum, and helped significantly.

The designs

I have some criticism of the final four/five designs but let me say that I think there is a large amount of insincerity from people saying they want change, but want a better design than the Kyle Lockwood one.

Can they point to any of the 10,000 designs submitted that they say was better, and had any public support at all? Red Peak trailed massively to the Lockwood designs. The Lockwood designs had a massive 82% of the vote. It is unlikely any other design would ever have won the 1st referendum.

But I do think the panel made a couple of errors with their selections, which alienated some.

The first is putting two similiar Kyle Lockwood designs forward. I know why they did this – half the panel liked the red one, and half the black one. I liked both, and went backwards and forwards on which one I preferred.

So I can see why the panel put both forward – to let the public choose which one they preferred. But the problem is that blocked another design from making the referendum, and made it look like less of a true choice,

The other critique is not selecting the design which was most like the wonderful Canadian Maple Leaf Flag. The simple silver fern on black. They let worries about it being too close to Islamic State, to stop it being selected. I think it should have been one of the first referendum options, to let NZers decide. That is the design I would most have liked to see, and still do, as our flag. It is our de facto national symbol.

So overall I’d have had five flags in the 1st referendum, and they’d be:

  1. Simple silver fern on black
  2. A Kyle Lockwood fern an southern cross flag
  3. A Koru flag
  4. Selected by public vote (maybe Red Peak)
  5. Another selected by public vote

I think that would have been a better range of choices.

The future

There will be no flag change for at least a generation, and probably longer. No Government will want to go near this again. I’d like to think NZ will become a republic in the next 20 years, but I doubt it.

The parties of the left have been hoping this will be the start of the end for John Key. I think they will be disappointed.

There certainly has been a lot of anger and opposition to the referendum and its cost. But this has been more polarising than changing people’s opinions of Key. Those who dislike him, dislike him even more. But there’s been no sign of a change in the polls, and it has been apparent for some time there will be no change. The cost has been known for over a year, and is an issue with many. It will give other parties a cudgel when the Government won’t fund something, but again they’ve bene trying to use the cudgel for the last year and it hasn’t worked.

National in February averaged 47.8% in the polls to 29.5% for Labour. A year ago it was 49.0% to 30.5% and three years ago it was 47.4% to 33.4%. So the gap has been:

  • Feb 2013 – 14.0%
  • Feb 2015 – 18.5%
  • Feb 2016 – 18.3%

The big winner from this has been NZ First. It has allowed Winston to be de facto Opposition Leader for a few months and get much more publicity than normal. NZ First has gone up consistently in the polls and may be able to stay up. They could even replace the Greens as the third largest party.

This is not necessarily good for the left (or NZ). Peters hates both Key and the Greens. He could go either way. But what he likes most is power. He is far more likely to go into a two party coalition than a three party one.In a two party coalition he can demand a policy or funding win for every bill the Government wants passed. In a three party coalition Labour can’t guarantee Greens support on any legislation, so Winston is in a weaker position to demand stuff.

Peters may get 10% next election. If he does, Labour is really only viable as a partner if they are at around 38%.

UPDATE: The result is 56.6% for the current flag and 43.2% for the alternative flag. Closer than I expected. 0.2% informal and 2,119,953 votes (so far).

Voter turnout was a massive 67.3%.

Six electorates voted for the new flag – Tamaki, Selwyn, Bay of Plenty, East Coast Bays and Ilam.

The electorates that least voted for change were the Maori seats and South Auckland.

Hubbard on the flag

March 7th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A rare Anthony Hubbard column I agree with:

Our flag is not just absurd, it’s laughable. “New Zealand,” it says, “still British after all these years.”

“Kiwis,” it says, “colonial and proud.” “Don’t disturb,” it says, “still asleep in the 19th century.”

 As a symbol of modern New Zealand, the half-pie Union Jack is merely embarrassing. Anything would be better than this, which is why we should go for the alternative Silver-Fern-plus-Southern-Cross. It’s not much of a flag, but at least it would be ours.

Some call it the rugby flag, a tea-towel that’s worse than that old British thing. No, it’s not. If you visit New Zealand war graves in Europe, an experience that shakes the soul and tells you who you really are, you will find a silver fern on every tomb.

That for me is the key. I want a flag unique to NZ (not near identical to Australia) that has a silver fern on it and no union jack on it. I love the UK, but having their flag on our flag is not a good symbol.

Don’t believe the people who say we can have another go later. If John Key gets a hiding over this, as seems likely, no other government will touch it for decades.

A Labour-led government can’t go there. Labour has shown that when it comes to the flag they are an odious bunch of hypocritical cowards. Labour is the party of independent nationhood and necessarily supports a non-colonial flag, but it decided to use the referendum as a stick to beat Key with.

Ratting on your own beliefs for political advantage is gutter politics and it doesn’t work.

Labour are so obsessed with inflicting a loss on John Key, they have destroyed any chance of a flag change probably in my lifetime.

Peters say permanent residents are outsiders

February 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Newshub reports:

Immigrants should get to have their say when it comes to choosing New Zealand’s flag in the upcoming referendum, according to the Change the NZ Flag chairman.

Immigrants with New Zealand residency are presently allowed to vote in the referendum, but NZ First leader Winston Peters has argued that “outsiders” such as immigrants shouldn’t be heard.

“Why should thousands of immigrants who have come here in recent years be involved in making a decision that goes, in the words of the flag committee, to the very heart of who we are and what we are as a nation?” he said.

“You will not find any other country that would allow outsiders to make a decision about their national identity and it certainly should not happen here.”

But Change the NZ Flag chairman Lewis Holden rebuked the NZ First leader and said the alternate fern and stars flag will unite all New Zealanders under a new, fresh banner.

“I had hoped Mr Peters would have grown tired of playing the immigrant card,” he said today.

“Some people who have residency may have lived in New Zealand for very long periods of time and have legitimate reasons to keep the passport of another country.”

Peters trying to compete with Donald Trump.

A permanent resident in not an outsider and it is insulting to label them so.

Anyone on the electoral roll should be allowed to vote in the referendum.

There is a wider issue of whether overall voting rights should be restricted to citizens. I think there are some benefits to this (to encourage citizenship), but if you ever changed you’d grandfather in existing residents. No one should ever lose the right to vote, unless they go to prison etc.

Celebrity says don’t listen to celebrities on flag – and then gives her opinion

February 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Lizzie Marvelly writes:

With all due respect, I don’t give a hoot what the Prime Minister, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter think about the flag. To me, the relationship Kiwis have with their flag should be wholly their own. They are absolutely entitled to their own views, but it is not for All Black legends or a leader democratically elected to serve all New Zealanders, to try to tell us what to think, much less how to vote in this ballot of lasting national significance.

So Marvelly says it is wrong for celebrities such as McCaw and Carter to say how they are voting on the flag referendum. Now this is a valid point of view (not one I agree with though) – that celebrities shouldn’t influence public opinion.

The thing is, I doubt even the pro-Lockwood campaigners could look New Zealanders in the eye and say, hand on heart, that this alternative flag is the best flag they could have imagined for Aotearoa. Until there is such a design, one capable of flying alongside Tino Rangatiratanga (now that is a well-designed flag, whatever you think of its connotations), of representing us in times of triumph and in times of tragedy, of inspiring a rush of love for our homeland here in New Zealand and overseas, I’ll be voting for our current flag.

Marvelly then spends most of the rest of her column rubbishing the Lockwood flag and stating she’ll be voting for the current flag.

Now I’ve got no problems with Marvelly using her column to campaign for the current flag. Just as I have no problem with McCaw saying on Facebook why he supports change. But is it rather rich to complain about McCaw stating his view in public, and then doing the exact same thing you complain with.

On the substance of the issue, I think it is absolutely sensible for people to say they are voting for the current flag as they prefer it to the Lockwood flag. However demanding that the alternate flag must be the “best” flag imaginable reminds of the old saying “perfect is the enemy of good” and I’d predict that if that is the standard, we’ll still have our current flag in 50 years time.

How the Wellington Mayors are voting

February 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports on how local mayors are voting in the flag referendum:

For change

  • Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown
  • Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett
  • Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy
  • Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson
  • South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples

For current flag

  • Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace
  • Kapiti Mayor Ross Church

Undecided

  • Carterton Mayor John Booth

Why Richie is voting for a new flag

February 22nd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

mccawflag

Richie McCaw posted on Facebook:

This is the moment when I decided a new flag would be great for our country. Running out at Twickenham and seeing the two flags looking so similar. The silver fern has always been the special symbol on the All Black jersey that represents who we are as kiwis, so the new flag with a silver fern as a part of it would be a great option I believe.

This is a once in a generation chance to have a distinctive flag for New Zealand.

Air NZ’s Luxon on the flag

February 1st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Luxon spent 16 years living overseas and several years in Canada during the Canadian flag referendum.

In 1965 when they changed their flag, there was a lot of the same debate that was now happening in New Zealand.

“One of the things was, is the maple leaf and in our case, the silver fern, an overused logo or emblem. The reality is it has become a singular identifier of Canada and all Canadians and I think in many ways the silver fern will work like that for us here as well.”

Luxon said Canada’s transition was quite messy but that was the nature of such debates.

Countries like Canada with its maple leaf and Japan with its rising sun were easily identified by their iconic flags and Luxon said the fern was on par with those global icons.

“We’re in a world of 196 countries, 7.3 billion people. As a person who has spent 16 years living overseas and leads a company that does a lot of export business, I just think it helps us stand out a little bit better,” he said.

I doubt 1% of the world could recognise the NZ flag as representing New Zealand. However I’d say the maple leaf flag and rising sun flags have massive recognition globally as the flags of Canada and Japan. We have a chance to have our national symbol of the silver fern fly on our flag around the world. Or we can stick with a flag that like 30 others has a union jack on it.

Herald calls for fern flag to fly on bridge

January 11th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

This is a serious and urgent request of whomever is running the Government in the Prime Minister’s absence. Please fly the proposed new flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, either on one pole alongside the existing flag, or on both poles.

We will be voting on them in just two months and it is vital to see the proposed alternative in action before we can decide.

Until we see how it looks fluttering in a breeze, lying limp and performing in various conditions, we cannot know whether its design really “works”.

I agree. Both the current flag and the alternative one offer should fly. Having New Zealanders seeing them on flagpoles will better allow for an informed vote.

Guest Post: Flag Referendum

January 10th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Anthony Morris:

The result of the first flag referendum was very close, with the country being split down the middle on whether we prefer the red and blue silver fern design or the black and blue sliver fern, The red and blue flag was a clear favourite on first preferences with 580,241 votes to 559,587 for the black and blue. The black and blue design only pulled ahead after the second preferences of the voters for two lowest ranking flags were added. The final tally, also adding in the second preferences of the red peak voters, was 670,790 for the black and blue design to 655,466 for the red and blue – only 2.3% behind.  

Given the result was so close I think it is time to pause the legislative process and allow for further consultation to tweak the final design. Surely we need more of a consensus on the preferred new flag before having a final vote? 

Design wise, I think a large area of black only works on a pure black and white flag. I can understand the desire to see the silver fern partly as we are used to seeing it on a black and white flag, but the black and blue design is not inspiring and the blue also looks too pale. Perhaps we can come up with a compromise? I have tried with the design below which takes the darker blue of the red and blue design and adds in a red contour to reduce the expanse of black. The contour could represent many things.

black fern mod

For my 2c I disagree. We’ve had a referendum and one design won. Merging the 1st and 2nd designs means a new design no one voted for.

Soper backs flag change

December 20th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Barry Soper writes:

After the counting of almost 1.6 million votes, or just on 49 per cent of the eligible voters, the Kyle Lockwood, black, white and blue design’s been chosen. In my book it’s the right one of the two that in reality stood a bolter’s show of making the final cut.

The black over the red is sensible. Black is the colour New Zealand’s known for on the international sporting stage, from the All Blacks, to the Black Ferns to the Black Caps to name just a few of the standouts. Red on the other hand denotes the blood we’ve spilt at home and in foreign theatres of war, most of it needlessly.

To say that changing our flag is in some way disrespectful to those who fought in foreign climes is bollocks.

Having travelled to every battlefield we’ve fought on around the world, some of them with our old diggers, the story almost to a man was they went away to fight for a sense of adventure. The flag, King and country never came into it.

The thousands of those who didn’t make it back home lie in graves marked, not by the New Zealand flag, but by a silver fern.

The silver fern is the global symbol for New Zealand, and I’d love to see it on our flag.

Let’s now hope this is the first leg of the trifecta. We’ve chosen the right flag to go up against the current one, let’s now take this one in a lifetime opportunity to show we’re a country with our own identity and ditch the Union Jack.

I love our history and heritage with the UK, but I think having their flag on ours makes us look like a colony, not an independent country.

One can only hope that Labour can now finally move on from its feeble opposition to the money spent and the way the referendum was conducted and climb on board it’s own policy of getting rid of the current flag by referendum.

No chance sadly.

We have a winner

December 11th, 2015 at 8:49 pm by David Farrar

Silver_Fern_Black_White_and_Blue

By an incredibly narrow margin the black, white and blue silver fern has beaten out the red, white and blue design.

Turnout was 48.2% and of the 1,527,042 votes received there were 148,022 informals.

The first round of counting saw:

  1. Red, white, blue fern 41.7%
  2. Black, white, blue fern 40.2%
  3. Red Peak 8.7%
  4. Black & white fern 5.7%
  5. Koru 3.8%

The second round of counting saw:

  1. Red, white, blue fern 42.4%
  2. Black, white, blue fern 40.9%
  3. Red Peak 9.7%
  4. Black & white fern 7.1%

The third round of counting saw:

  1. Black, white, blue fern 44.8%
  2. Red, white, blue fern 44.4%
  3. Red Peak 10.8%

The final round of counting saw

  1. Black, white, blue fern 50.5%
  2. Red, white, blue fern 49.5%

Overwhelming support for the two Kyle Lockwood designs. You can see why they were both included.

The winning flag  is now the distinct underdogs under the current design, but New Zealanders now have a binary choice and three months to debate and decide.

Hosking endorses e-voting

December 11th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Mike Hosking writes:

I hope you’ve voted.

The first of the flag polls closes tomorrow.

I note there’s a bit of scuttlebutt about, suggesting if the turnover isn’t that high, then the pressure will go on the Prime Minister to call off the second vote in March.

I will countenance no such nonsense.

I think the turnout will be low. Why wouldn’t it be?

Getting people to drag mail in from the box, open envelopes, read instructions, sign forms and stick them back in envelopes and go find a post box is from 1992 if not earlier.

All voting should be electronic, at your leisure via phone, tablet or computer.

Your vote should be a click.

A referendum such as this would be ideal for e-voting. I submitted that it should be an option.

As Hosking says, amazing so many people can bother to find a post box today.

The only winner out of all this paperwork is New Zealand Post which is probably very grateful given the state of its company. It’s one of the ironies of the vote: people who complained about the cost mostly didn’t realise it’s virtually all stamps.

Actually changing the flag, if we do, will cost a couple of million bucks. The meetings they held, the advertising and so on is actually pocket change compared with the post bill which is about $17 million of the $26 million budget.

And arguably the net cost to the taxpayer is only $9 million as the $17 million post bill is extra revenue for NZ Post.

So to the flag itself.

I’ve voted for the Blue and Black, the black is us, it’s got the stars and the fern, it’s perfect.

If not that, I’d take the blue and red.

If perchance any of the other three pop up – which they won’t, but if they do – I’ll be sticking with the status quo.

I have never wanted change for change’s sake, I’ve wanted change because we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a statement about who we are and where we’re going.

I did red and blue first.

After tomorrow we’ll have the contender, the new flag on the block.

The beauty of that is that for the first time, we have choice, proper choice, win and lose choice.

Ranking options is choice, but nothing fundamentally changes. Once we have the two go head to head that’s when it really starts to count.

That’s when we’re going to see people really get engaged, because it actually matters.

Yep the real debate and choice starts next week. For the first time in our history people in March will get to decide what should be our national flag.

What will turnout be?

December 11th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

thurs_10_12_stats

Despite one less week of voting, turnout is well up on the 2013 asset sales referendum, both in gross terms, and as a percentage of the population. Votes received today yet to be counted.

So turnout so far is 47.4% and might hit 48%. How does that compare with other stand alone referenda. In order the turnout rates have been:

  1. 1995 Firefighters 27.0%
  2. 2013 Asset Sales 45.1%
  3. 2015 Flag 47.4% (with one day to go)
  4. 1992 Electoral System 55.2%
  5. 2009 Smacking 56.1%
  6. 1997 Compulsory Superannuation 80.3%

So the flag referendum is ahead of both the union initated referenda.

Now there is a difference between binding and indicative, but this is only semi-binding in that it is choosing an option, not a final decision. The best comparison is to the 1992 vote to choose an electoral system.

That vote got 55% turnout and the flag referendum looks to be around 48%. Now considering how massively more important the electoral system is than the flag, that’s not a massive gap.

Shipley backs the fern

December 1st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealanders must rise up and be proud of who they are – and that involves letting go of the “colonial” flag and choosing a new identity.

Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, who led the National government between 1997 and 1999, has revealed she supported changing the flag to a silver fern during her time in office.

Shipley has made a point of avoiding commenting on politics, since retiring from Parliament. But now, with voting papers out to rank the five options in the running if voters chose to dump the current flag next year, she has gone public on why she believes Kiwis need a change.  …

While our history is colonisation, I’m horrified to think that people would allow a colonial symbol to be part of the shadow that flies over us.”

Shipley said her support was nothing to do with backing her successor as National Party leader and prime minister, John Key.

The Kyle Lockwood  silver fern (red, white and blue) is her pick, with the black, white and blue fern in second place. She said ferns represented new life unfolding and red had chiefly heritage in Maori and Pakeha cultures.

During her time as Prime Minister, she said, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials asked her to wear a fern brooch.

“They said ‘you’re on TV more than anything else, actually more than the flag when you travel abroad so we would really like you to wear a fern because it’s the most recognised symbol worldwide of New Zealand. People go: New Zealand … fern’. And they produced three beautiful broaches, one of which I continue to wear today.”

Despite her support for removing the Union Jack from the flag, Shipley remains a monarchist, saying the English king or queen serves as an extremely efficient titular head.

But that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to fly a silver fern from the flagpole in her Auckland garden.

“My husband Burton has been walking this new flagpole around the garden trying to decide where it’s going to be put. I have a magnificent woollen current New Zealand flag, but I will be sorely tempted to put one of the change ones up. I’d prefer to.”

“I’ve had the privilege of being Prime Minister and I’ve walked into many war graves and I [didn’t] see the existing flag in any of them.”

I may be wrong but I suspect every living former Prime Minister supports a change. Not entirely sure for Geoffrey Palmer though.

Voting starts today

November 20th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Voting starts today. For those interested here is how I will be voting in the first referendum:

Silver-fern-red-white-and-blue

For the last two weeks I was preferring the black, blue and white fern, as black is our de facto national colour. But it was seeing the flags all flying outside the Westpac stadium that swung me back towards this one. The black looks better on a screen, but the red better in real life – and stands out more on darker days.

Silver-fern-black-white-and-blue

My very close second choice.

Red-peak-primary

Red Peak has grown on me, and if it wins the first referendum I’d vote for it over the current flag.

Black-and-white-fern-primary-v2

Doesn’t do a lot for me. A pity the simple silver fern on black design was not chosen. I understand the concern ISIS has a black flag also, but I still love the simplicity of it. This design though just doesn’t quite work for me. If it won, would probably vote for the current flag to remain.

Koru-black-primary

Sorry Koru. Someone has to be 5th.

Is Red Peak racist?

November 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide quotes Tu Harawira:

My first preference is to stick with our present flag. My second choice was “Red Peak” – but not any more.

I didn’t know why Red Peak appealed. It just did. But thanks to Maori broadcaster Tu Harawira I now know it’s because it’s a racist flag appealing to my inner colonialist. Red Peak now disgusts me.

It came as a jolt when Harawira this week told the 24-hour Flag Summit that Red Peak symbolises “white deciding where the colours will go”.

“To me this is a symbol of the white fellas with all the colours in the corner.”

It’s true. The big white stripe has marginalised blue, red and black shapes forcing them to the margins. Who knew that Red Peak was really a racist flag! 🙂

RSA divisions

October 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The flag debate is driving a wedge within the RSA.

The organisation has so far been a staunch campaigner for keeping the current New Zealand flag – but now some members think it’s gone too far.

The RSA has made submissions to the select committee, started a campaign called ‘Fight for our Flag’ and, after the alternate flag choices were revealed, encouraged members to boycott the first referendum by writing ‘we support the current flag’ on the ballot.

Now an uprising within the troops are calling for the RSA to abandon the campaign, which has already been allotted $20,000 of its budget.

Devonport RSA president Chris Mullane sent a letter to the National RSA last Thursday, articulating its members’ concerns about the campaign, telling them it “smacks of sour grapes” and demanding it be abandoned at the National RSA’s meeting next week.

Almost all of Devonport RSA’s 180 members had voted against the campaign at their latest meeting, he said.

Mullane said it wasn’t about him trying to force a flag change, although he would vote for a change.

He said the reason the members were upset was the the RSA was encouraging people to “play around with the democratic process”.

This is where the RSA has gone wrong. No one begrudges them campaigning for the status quo on the second referendum. But actively campaigning for people to spoil their ballots at the first referendum is not something that sits well with many of their members.

NZ Flag survey results

October 13th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Got over 2,500 responses in just over half a day to the online survey on flag preferences. This is the first survey that I have seen that asked people to rank all six options for the NZ flag in order. The aim was to understand preferences better,

It is not a scientific poll as it was self-selecting from people who read my blog, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter (plus their circles).

Anyway what were the results of the first preferences:

  1. Union Jack & Southern Cross 26.3%
  2. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 25.8%
  3. Red Peak 24.0%
  4. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 18.4%
  5. Silver Fern (Black & White) 3.8%
  6. Koru 1.6%

So the current design is the most popular.

What happens when we drop off the least preferred design.

  1. Union Jack & Southern Cross 26.6%
  2. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 26.0%
  3. Red Peak 24.8%
  4. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 18.6%
  5. Silver Fern (Black & White) 4.0%

Then you drop of the black and white fern:

  1. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 28.2%
  2. Union Jack & Southern Cross 27.2%
  3. Red Peak 25.2%
  4. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 19.4%

So now we are left with the four most popular options, all with significant support. What happens when the red, white and blue fern drops off?

  1. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 42.4%
  2. Union Jack & Southern Cross 30.9%
  3. Red Peak 26.6%

No surprise most support from one the Kyle Lockwood designs goes to the other. The big question now is if Red Peak drops out, what do its supporters do?

  1. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 53.7%
  2. Union Jack & Southern Cross 46.3%

Most Red Peak supporters actually ranked the current NZ Flag higher than the Black, White and Blue Silver Fern. The current flag picked up 15.4% and the fern 11.3%. But in this survey the fern flag would still win as it had a big buffer. Note again this is not predicting the referendum outcome.

So how would each of the five alternative flags go against the current NZ Flag? This is what they would each get in a one on one:

  1. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 54.5%
  2. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 53.7%
  3. Red Peak 41.5%
  4. Silver Fern (Black & White) 37.4%
  5. Koru 29.1%

So among those who did the survey, only the two Kyle Lockwood designs would win against the NZ flag. Of interest is the design with red does slightly better than the design with black, even though it has less primary support.

An excel file with the survey data is here – Flag Preferences – in case anyone wants to do further analysis on the preferences. Again this is not about predicting the outcome, but about understanding how the supporters of certain flags feel about the other flags.

Rank the six possible New Zealand flags

October 12th, 2015 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

I’m doing an unscientific web survey to gauge people’s preferences when it comes to the six possible flag options New Zealand has.

The survey is at SurveyMonkey – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nzflagsurvey

You need to rank all six options.

Once concluded I will publish the results and also the preference flows from each option, so we can see people’s second and other choices.

Vote early but only vote once.

Will Red Peak make it?

September 23rd, 2015 at 12:40 pm by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party will today ask Parliament to allow it to introduce a Bill offering New Zealanders the choice of the popular Red Peak flag as a fifth option in the upcoming flag referendum.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes will seek the leave of Parliament to introduce the New Zealand Flag Referendum Amendment Bill 2015 and put it at the top of the order paper. This requires the support of every MP in Parliament if it is to be successful.

It won’t be given leave, but the important part is down further:

“We won’t be supporting any changes other parties may put up to this Bill. We want to keep it simple and allow the opportunity for Red Peak to be included without re-litigating the whole referendum process.

The Greens are saying they will not back Labour’s demand to sabotage the process by having a yes/no vote before we even know the final alternative design.

“If the Bill is blocked today, we would call on the Government to adopt it as its own, to put politics aside and provide the choice that New Zealanders clearly want,” Mr Hughes said.

The bill would then have the support of National, Greens, Maori Party, ACT and (presumably) United Future. Is that enough to meet what the PM has said he wants – cross-party support?

If it then becomes a Government bill, Labour then has to decide whether to try and vote the red peak bill down, even after their amendments fail. They’d piss off a lot of red peak supporters if they do.

If the bill passes then the first referendum will have five flags, and people will get to rank them for 1 to 5.

UPDATE: The Herald reports:

The Red Peak flag will be added as a fifth option in the flag referendum, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

The Government has agreed to pick-up legislation that was put forward by the Green Party this afternoon, which means the Red Peak design will join the four flag alternatives already selected.

“The whole way through I have said my preference is to stick wwith the process that the officials gave us – accept the four [designs already selected].

“I said I was prepared to go outside of that but I just didn’t want people playing games. The Greens have been very, very straight – they have said, here is a straight bill.

“In the end, I’m not wanting to be the one that stands in the way of people having some choice.”

I’m looking forward to people campaigning for their preferred design.

Labour’s flag incompetence

September 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Labourflagballot (1)

This is Labour’s attempt to show they are a serious party. They included this in an actual bill to go before Parliament. Just two problems.

The minor one is they have used an incorrect description for the fourth flag. It is black, white and blue – not red, white and blue.

The major one is the referendum is meant to be preferential – you ranks the flags in order of preference. This is far fairer than First Past the Post. But in their haste they overlooked this and drew up a first pas the post ballot.

So two fails for them on this. How no one in Labour checks even bills for accuracy I don’t know.

And you know if they stopped playing politics and attacking National for implementing what was basically an identical policy to Labour’s, then the Red peak design could be included. All they have to do is back a bill which simply adds it on.

But they’d rather play politics.

Why we need to change the flag

September 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

flags

This photo from a newspaper, which I saw on Facebook, is a great example of why we should change the flag.

Idiotic Dom Post editorial

September 12th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Now we’re fighting about whether the Red Peak flag should join the final four for the referendum later this year. And it obviously should. The Flag Consideration Panel botched its job and ended up with three fern designs and a koru. What sort of choice is that?

The Red Peak movement has gathered 35,000 signatures on an online petition. That can’t be dismissed as just a digital bubble or a storm on a Facebook page.

Yes it can. It is exactly that. 1% of NZers have spent 15 seconds to sign an online petition.

A UMR poll of the 40 long listed designs found Red Peak 35th of 40. It was close to being the most disliked design of the 40, being in the top 4 for dislike or least preferred in every demographic.

John Key says the Government would have to change the law to allow a fifth finalist. So what? His administration will change the law at the drop of a hat if it really wants to.

So this pathetic, once great, newspaper is reduced to arguing that Parliament should pass a special law and over-ride the independent panel because a few thousand people spent 15 seconds signing an online petition. What a joke.

The Finlayson scale of nutiness

September 10th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has described as “nuts” a theory that removing the Union Jack from the New Zealand flag will give the Government more power.

Despite that, Finlayson said that “in the world in which I live” the theory was “quite moderate”.

“I have people alleging that – old grandmothers write in and say that the GCSB is spying on them, and that the Romans and Phoenicians were here before the Maori, so in terms of insanity it’s only moderately nuts.”

I would have called it barking mad, but I guess in comparison to some of the other stuff, it is only moderately nuts. I think we should ask the AG to provide his full scale, with examples, ranging from reasonably plausible to certifiable.

According to the theory, removing the Union Jack from the flag would remove the “due authority” of the Crown in government matters, as the Union Jack represents the monarchy.  “It also means we take away the very power which enforces both the 1990 Bill of Rights Act (the closest thing NZ has to an entrenched Constitution) and the founding plank upon which the Treaty of Waitangi has meaning,” reads one blog post.

Asked if removing the Union Jack from the flag would have any effect on New Zealand’s constitution, Finlayson replied: “Absolutely not. It would be a novel constitutional argument that the sovereignty of New Zealand was dependent on one corner of the New Zealand flag.”

How stupid do you have to be to actually think this?