I haven't taken much interest in the issue until now. I didn't vote in the first referendum to select one of five designs for a run-off against the current flag and it wasn't until I saw the final voting paper sitting on my desk that I decided I should complete the form and send it in. I voted to retain the current design, not because I particularly like it but because I like the alternative even less. It looks (as Steve Braunias in the New York Times accurately described it) like a beach towel or, in my view, like an emblem that our big dairy exporter, Fonterra, might put on one of their packets of cheese.
|The proposed and the current flag designs|
Prime Minister John Key has backed the change, expending a little from his enormous bank of political capital on the exercise. Polls indicate the change will be rejected and some commentators like Braunias have predicted that the referendum loss will knock Key's credibility. I don't think New Zealanders really care enough about the issue for it to make much of a dent in Key's popularity. The whole thing is a diversion from the worsening economic situation in New Zealand (with the Reserve Bank unexpectedly lowering interest rates last week in recognition of the relatively bleak outlook). But perhaps that was exactly what John Key intended.