Editorial: Tired of the flag debate

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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OPINION: New flag or not? Do we really care?

We're a patriotic lot, but like many things Kiwi, we hide it well.

Some of us buy flags to take to sporting events, and will proudly stitch one on our backpack for our OE ("So which part of Australia are you from, mate?"), but they don't hang off every second house as they do in America.

And it's been a long time since schoolchildren were regularly lined up to sing the national anthem and raise the flag.

So John Key's out loud thinking that perhaps we should have a referendum in conjunction with this year's election on the issue is a little odd.

Isn't there something better we could debate?

Like ...? Well, okay, maybe there isn't.

My two cents' worth then. Yes, let's have a new flag.

We've long since cut the apron strings with Britain which makes the Union Jack redundant, and the flag looks way too much like Australia's.

And our present flag can be divisive, so let's embrace one we can all identify with.

I understand the view that the flag is the one we fought two world wars under, but it was the symbol, not the reason. Freedom was the reason.

If we were to change the flag then, what should it be? There's nothing wrong with the silver fern on a black background.

The fern is used widely in sporting, business and tourism branding now. In fact, it's probably more recognisable to most of the world than our present flag.

And we're such a young country, changing the flag isn't that big a deal.

Which brings us back to the earlier question, that surely there must be something more important on which to hold a referendum.

Like state asset sales (one election too late); or the number of MPs (been there, predictably ignored); or whether referendums should be binding; or whether we should have a new day to celebrate our nationhood that isn't Waitangi Day.

A new day where we could fly a new flag.

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- The Timaru Herald

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