Why do we need a new flag?

The Flag Consideration Panel came up with several reasons. They make little sense, individually or collectively.

Firstly, we've had the same flag for 103 years so it's time for a new model. Not a compelling argument. Most countries happily keep the same flag for hundreds of years. Using Panel logic, Britain should have had three new flags since 1707 and the USA and France two new ones each.

The Panel says the new flag "should be unmistakably from NZ and celebrate us as a diverse inclusive nation" while "best representing us now and in the future as individuals and the nation".

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God knows what that actually means. The kiwi is the only unmistakable New Zealand icon and it's not on the new flag. The airforce thought that one through long ago and put the kiwi in the middle of the old RAF roundel. The world knows instantly that our planes (or is it just "the plane" nowadays?) come from NZ.

Alas, we sometimes get mixed up with Australia. There are several hundred national flags. They all look alike.

The flags of Belgium, Iran, Ireland, Hungary, Kuwait, Italy, Oman, Niger and Ivory Coast all use Red White and Green stripes.

They get mixed up all the time but they handle the trauma. Being mistaken for an Aussie once in a while is not a compelling reason for change.

If it causes sleepless nights in the Beehive, copy the Airforce and stick a kiwi on the current number.

Historic links with Britain. Bad. Our colonial heritage symbolised by the Union Jack is now an embarrassment. In fact, we have moved from being a colony of Britain to being a financial colony of the Australian banks.

We will soon be an economic colony of China. An honest new flag would have an Aussie bank logo and a Chinese yuan by the Southern Cross.

This would fulfil the Panels aim of having a flag that represents us now and in the future as a nation of indebted spendthrifts.

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Anyway the English got us slaughtered at Anzac, so we don't want a bar of them anymore.

True, but they also gave us trial by jury, a free press, free speech, freedom of religion and assembly and the secret ballot. As well as the Rolling Stones, test cricket and a lot more good enduring stuff.

Christianity largely created our modern world and its values still dominate our society.

The Union Jack comprises the crosses of the Saints Andrew George and David. You could reasonably argue that the Three Saints flag remains an apt symbol of our past present and future so the Panel should embrace it.

Besides which, simple logic says that if you want to get shot of the poms, step one is ditch HM the Queen as head of state.

If we are debating national identity, keep the cart behind the gee-gee. Naturally there is no mention of the cost or the politics. Fifty million dollars plus being blown on a whim.

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Spending any money on the flag while hospitals cut respite subsidies to the elderly is an insult to the poor and needy.

It makes a mockery of the claim to be inclusive and progressive.

The politics are obvious It's a distraction. Falling living standards, rising house prices, growing inequality, climate change, obesity, unaffordable pensions are real issues.

The Key administration hasn't faced up to any of them. So we are being fobbed off with the flag.

It's a topic of conversation for the chattering classes. For everyone else it is a sideshow.

There are some pressing problems in this world. Bottom of the list by a country mile is the non-existent need to re-kit the flag poles of the nation.

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It's a scam and a con. Happy voting to you all and may the best flag win.

- Tim Gilbertson is a former mayor of Central Hawke's Bay and served on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz