Local Government Magazine
Opinion

YEAH NAH: RAISING THE FLAG ON REPLACEMENT COSTS

Assuming we do change our flag, It would be nice to know who’s going to pick up the tab for replacing them all … Jeremy Elwood| The Funny Stuff


The government’s announced its intention to hold a pair of referenda on changing the New Zealand flag. Whether you view it as an essential step or a distraction, one question must be asked. How do the people who are going to be saddled with the most work, and in all likelihood costs, feel about it?
Have a look around your home town. Odds are, unless you happen to live next door to someone who takes semaphore seriously, the places you’ll see the most flags are council buildings, both inside and out.
These are the places where, if we decide on a new design, flags will have to be replaced. Replaced with what? Will a new flag be the same size? Shape? Will the new colours clash with the décor?
Okay, so it’s unlikely that we’re going to vote in some bizarre, asymmetrical design, but the fact remains that every flag currently hanging in, on or around council chambers, municipal offices and town halls will need replacing if and when
these votes are counted.
There are likely to be flag bearers around the country who have loyally raised and lowered the same flag for years, now faced with the possibility of coming to work and having to familiarise themselves with something new. Which way up
does it go? Is it the same weight as the earlier model? Important considerations, all.
I still miss the days when Auckland used to raise different flags over the harbour bridge on international dates of importance. I used to drive over the bridge on the 4th of July or St Patrick’s Day, for example, and see a fluttering reminder
of what other places were celebrating. Best of all was when a flag was up which I couldn’t recognise – it broke up the commute trying to figure out which country was celebrating what, before I got to my destination.
Perhaps that’s why they stopped doing it, there were too many people like me slowing down to get a good look up during rush hour, but perhaps that’s also another way of holding a referendum.

JEREMY-E
Let’s raise a few different designs, as they come in, and let ourselves get used to living with them before we commit to change. Let’s ease council workers into a new habit, not just dump something on them that they’re going to have to pay far more attention to than anyone else.
We don’t want a spate of stress-related ACC claims from council employees struggling to cope.
I’m being deliberately facetious here but there is a point. And let’s face it, if the government spends over $25 million only for us all to vote for the status quo, that’ll not only be a colossal embarrassment, but also the most quintessentially “Yeah-Nah” Kiwi thing we’ve done in a generation.
Assuming we do change our flag, it would be nice to know who’s going to pick up the tab for replacing them all, not to mention where they’ll be made.
It would be nice to think central government has a slush fund dedicated to bankrolling a cottage industry of flag makers, creating jobs for hundreds, to cope with the thousands of new orders, but I have my doubts.
In the meantime, I’m going to start looking into buying shares in offshore bulk flag manufacturers. LG

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