They’re dying,while the wily John Key has us arguing

We’ve all seen the pictures. The little three year old boy, drowned, lying on the sand…A mother in an agony of loss, her two much-loved little daughters dead. They are ordinary family people, just like us – fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands. They are dying, starving, destitute, losing hope – and scores of thousands are already dead.

They are dying, and desperate – while John Key has us arguing about his vanity flag project.

They are posing an enormous challenge to the countries to which they are fleeing from the butchery in the Middle East. Hey, but we’re busy, aren’t we, arguing about the colours on a possible (though highly unlikely) new flag for this country?

However, according to the Herald, although John Key has long resisted requests to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota, there are signs that he may be softening his stance. He has now announced that “we’re not ruling out doing more”.

Who are we? John Key, who now virtually rules this once far more democratic country? And apparently, changing the flag that commemorates our forefathers, to turn it into a mere branding image, is a number one priority for our lightweight Prime Minister, who likes to disparagingly use the word “colonial” to rubbish a great heritage left to us . This centres on the values and traditions of the centuries-old fight for democracy, and the Christian underpinning of the West. However, in our increasingly secularised and fragmenting society, as these values come more and more under attack, it may be time to face the fact that when we lose them, we will have lost what turned us into a civilisation – even if one that is now gradually disintegrating.

Our present flag and that of our Australian friends are not a purposeless assemblage of design gimmicks. They can remind us that the “three crosses of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick acknowledge the principles and ideals flowing from the British heritage of European settlers; including parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.”

And meanwhile, the Australians are laughing at us. No wonder. It was a New Zealander who submitted one of the five almost identical designs that was adopted as the Australian flag, which carries a fifth star within the Southern Cross, and one larger star, that of Federation.

A silver fern, a piece of (green) plant which has been adopted, little by little (and by no means without a gradually implemented, radicalized agenda) as an emblem on sporting teams representing New Zealand) doesn’t carry the same weight. Nor do any of the four slick (three repetitively similar) designs now selected to challenge the flag of those who came before us.

And from the site of Facebook https://www.facebook.com/acmnorepublic: Here’s the short list for the best NZ beach towel. The comments on these are overwhelmingly negative. And “In the meantime Karl Puschmann reveals in the New Zealand Herald that the ” whole ‘Change the Flag’ debate was just a big Government distraction to take attention away from the real scandal going on right under our noses.”

Which scandal, though? That of our country being sold out piece by piece to the highest bidders? A country where our farmland is being priced out of the reach of the people of this country. A country where political decisions and a mismanaged economy have produced the unthinkable – a situation where many New Zealanders can no longer even hope to buy a house of their own.

John Key apparently has a very strong ego which justifies, in his thinking, the $26 million estimated as the cost of the two referenda which he has planned, in order to get rid of our flag. But this will be a mere drop in the bottomless bucket of the many more, million of dollars – if his personal push succeeds – to change all the flags, the atlases, the textbooks, the insignia on buildings, the passports. We can probably factor in hundreds of millions of dollars if one determined individual, bent on getting his own way, succeeds – now cuddling up to sporting heroes like Richie McCaw, to assist him – to the disappointment of many who will feel that McCaw should not have allowed himself to be part of the PM’s propaganda campaign on this issue.

So, while desperate individuals flee from the carnage of the Middle East, and the reversals to barbarism of Central Africa, New Zealanders have been inveigled into arguing about which beach towel design they could opt for.

Too bad that our cash-strapped hospitals are now even removing patients from their waiting lists; that there are New Zealanders with life-threatening diseases requiring expensive medication having this withheld, because the country apparently can’t afford it. Too bad that Starship Children’s Hospital has to send out begging letters to raise the money to buy the equipment needed to treat children to the best of their ability. Too bad that the police are being constantly badgered to reduce even further their already inadequate budget. If John Key wants to prioritise his wish for a new flag, apparently this takes precedence.

That our flag is similar to that of Australia is a very minor quibble. All around the world variations of tricolour flags are genuinely confusing, whereas it takes only a glance to tell the difference between our flag and that of our Commonwealth neighbour. Moreover, we are both Anzacs. Our people, New Zealanders and Australians, fought and died together – and apart from our very reasonable dislike for the unsporting antics of the Australian cricket team, we rub along pretty well.

We may have a money-man for PM this side of the ditch – but we need to show him that a county’s flag isn’t just about making money – isn’t just an export brand. And that prioritizing his wants, while people are dying, forced to flee their own homes, their country, their own people– let alone downplaying or dismissing the very real problems facing this country, shames him – and us all.

© Amy Brooke, Convener – The 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand.