Much more than a flag: the propaganda?
John Key is costing us. And what about the important lesson from Hong Kong?
In October 2015, a highly significant newspaper report told us what shouldn’t be happening, i.e. that John Key virtually rules this country. It puts paid to any claim that we have a representative democracy. “Key’s advantage is that his power over the caucus is unquestioned and absolute. He goes into the reshuffle from a position of pure strength.” And as ordinary MPs simply don’t count, caucus being where the decisions are set about what is going to happen to the country, we know who makes them. Moreover, Minister Nick Smith gave the show away when, newly reappointed to Cabinet, he boasted that when the Prime Minister tells him to jump, he asks how high…
And we all know that John Key wants to get rid of the New Zealand flag. But why? The manipulative nonsense he talks about New Zealanders coming of age, becoming proudly independent, becoming increasingly confident , etc. is sheer bunkum. In fact, New Zealanders are becoming increasingly concerned about what has happened to this country being sold out from under our feet – apparently to whatever company or individuals are wealthy enough to beat the system. We are now in a position in which it is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many New Zealanders to live here. What of the daily reports of job losses, businesses closing, the financial costs incurred by ordinary people now being shut out of the house market and forced to move from pillar to post to scratch a living in an increasingly unstable society? These things have nothing to do with changing the flag. But they have a great deal to do with the wrong directions long inflicted on this country, due to decision-making from which New Zealanders have been excluded.
Few would dispute that we are now a country where ordinary people are becoming increasingly disillusioned with being ruled by our political class, now in essence controlled by one determined individual projecting the persona of a good Kiwi joker having a bit of a laugh, a born performer, fawned upon by too many mainstream media talkback hosts. This same individual, as highlighted in the newspaper report, is the one who basically makes the important decisions affecting New Zealanders – a great many to our disadvantage – while excluding us from having any real say – as with the TPPA…the anti-smacking legislation – rejected by 87% of the country, but forced on us by the Prime Minister… the decision to sneak Pita Sharples off to New York to sign a highly problematic, binding Declaration about which even the media were not told. And what now of the disgraceful racist planning to prioritize water “rights” to grant them to certain powerful iwi on the grounds of a now slim, part-Maori inheritance – a “right” which has no justification whatever in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi? This behind the scenes deal-making is not endorsed by majority New Zealanders, whether part-Maori or non-Maori.
Equally problematically, who else could have authorised the recent, shockingly inappropriate decision which – almost totally ignored by media commentators – now has New Zealand joined in a military defence pact with Communist China – a predatory and aggressive, utterly undemocratic country which intimidates its own citizens; imprisons those asking questions; and has no hesitation in torturing and executing those who do not fall into line? China is now causing concern about its appropriating of territory to which it has only dubious claims, and its building of new islands, airstrips and other expansionist military facilities. So why has New Zealand incredibly enough, now tied itself to such an “ally”- for military purposes?
Such an almost incredible recent alliance could never have been made without the consent, if not the actual urging of the Prime Minister. What is he up to? And why are some delegations of Chinese officials reportedly able to bypass immigration scrutiny?
History is full of examples of what happens when one dominating individual seizes power and overrules his/her colleagues. And we would do well to take very seriously the reminder that Ronald Reagan gave, when he said that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” How much freedom do New Zealanders now have to make the decisions about happening to this country? We need to think seriously about this. We may have the time-wasting, hugely expensive bone thrown to us of being “allowed” a binding vote in a referendum that one man has dreamt up – because he wants his own way. However, in recent decades, when genuine referenda have been presented to our government, it has simply ignored them. Too bad about what New Zealanders want. Our politburo, manipulated by whatever political party is temporarily in power, backed up by its party machine and virtually ruled by a Key or Clark, runs the country.
It’s significant in this respect that apparently by no means the majority of National Party MPs want to ditch the flag which has meant so much to generations of New Zealanders. This seems to be the main issue with Key – that our present flag carries a significance with which he is uncomfortable. In line with so many decisions now being made without any consultation with New Zealanders, particularly in relation to uncontrolled immigration, the loss of our land, our farms, the pricing of housing beyond the reach of so many, it appears that the Prime Minister does not want the reminder of what the Union Jack represents.
Is it the fact that it makes us aware of our constitutional links to what was our mother country, under the protection of the three great crosses of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick, and the underpinning of our democracy by its Christian traditions? Does this rankle with an individual who has professed to be atheist, i.e. to not believe in God? While being agnostic is a perfectly reasonable position, to simply deny the existence of a supreme intelligence certainly suggests a certain arrogance, a basic hubris that is possibly by no means unlinked to a born-to-rule mentality. And in decrying colonialism, the Prime Minister has basically rubbished our colonial ancestors, many of them brave men and women who came with few possessions, but with hope in their hearts, to make new lives for themselves and their families.
As a Returned Serviceman and writer in the Nelson Mail writes, New Zealand “is one of 14 countries or states that have the Union Jack on their flag, and none of the others are looking at removing it any time soon… What is the rush for us to be first? In fact, the people of the state of Hawaii seem to be very proud of their Union Jack. ” Moreover, those complaining about the one star difference between our and the Australian flag are splitting straws. Not only are the tricolour flags worldwide genuinely confusing – but the very real ANZAC partnership is one we are only too ready to celebrate, with good reason.
At any rate, John Key wants to get rid of our flag. To this end, we have the usual “celebrities” falling into line, parroting the usual clichés – while he is forcing us to initially pay $25 million dollars for a referendum the country did not ask for. This would amount to scores of millions of dollars, if he succeeds. All New Zealand passports, stationary, insignia everywhere – including on buildings and embassies world wide – all atlases, publications, all books making references to our flag, will eventually need reprinting. Our flag everywhere will have to be removed. And it is not as if any other particular flag would have so much real significance for us that this Prime Minister thought it more important. The key to what is happening lies in the fact that he apparently simply wants to get rid of our flag – and has mounted this wasteful exercise in the hope of getting his own way.
In contrast, in Hong Kong today they think democracy and freedom are important enough to fight for it against Communist China – in contrast to our recent alliance! An article in the current Quadrant points out that since its handover in 1997, while its vigorous market economy has been allowed to flourish, “Hong Kong residents have been less happy over the gradual encroachment of mainland authorities over Hong Kong’s political self-government,” with China gradually increasing pressure being exercised over their political system. One of the symbols of the resistance mounted – supported by a great many young people – is, ironically enough “the old Blue Ensign of colonial era Hong Kong.” While John Key wants to get rid of it on our national flag, “the democracy protesters of Hong Kong have adopted it as a symbol of constitutional government and civil liberties. “ There is an important lesson for us here…
One other important point we should note when reading the Flag Consideration Project pamphlet included with every voting paper is the quite obvious bias in favour of the flag that John Key is now backing to replace our real flag. The politicisation of the language promoting “Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a silver fern spreading upwards representing one people growing onward into the future…” is quite blatant. There’s no such country as Aotearoa – a radicalised, unfounded substitution for the name New Zealand. Nor have New Zealanders been given any opportunity to challenge this damaging, failed doctrine of multiculturalism, which has already caused and is causing disruption to societies all over the world.
Moreover, in all the euphoric descriptions of what the Silver Fern represents – (very little to those who are not involved in sport) – the Flag Consideration Project has failed to point out that the silver fern today has a Chinese Communist association! Silver Fern Farms, the now Chinese/New Zealand Milk company, with its new majority shareholder, Shanghai Maling, “has not only also acquired the land that sits under the Silver Fern’s plants, but is chasing 50 percent of New Zealand’s biggest meat company”. The full transaction, subject to New Zealand and Chinese regulatory approvals, is expected to complete in the middle of 2016. Who then will really own the silver fern emblem?
Contrast this propaganda – on the officially sanctioned pamphlet – with the bland description of our real flag, the significance of the Union Jack reducing it to “New Zealand’s historical foundations as a former British colony and dominion.” If I had been engaged to virtually rhapsodise about one flag, and to denigrate another, I would have found it hard to do better.
Let’s hope that New Zealanders do not fall into the trap of supplying a highly determined individual with what he wants. Let’s hope that the very fact the Prime Minister has shown us much we have to pay when we are exhorted to follow his wishes, will wake New Zealanders up to the realisation that we have been far more disenfranchised – with regard to being genuinely represented in parliament – than most have realised.
Our real hope of winning back this country lies in the 100 Days – Claiming New Zealand initiative that made Switzerland the most successful and prosperous democracy in the world- because its people – not is political class, make the decisions.
We can claim the same right. And your help is important! See www.100days.co.nz and join us!
© Amy Brooke