POLL QUESTIONChose a Flag for New Zealand 1, 2, 3, or 4Four new flags - and four million opinions video
Last updated 20:08, September 1 2015OPINION:
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about, as Oscar Wilde once said.
On that basis, John Key must be relieved about the response to Tuesday's big reveal of the final four designs in the search for a new flag to replace the current one. The judges spoke, and New Zealand roared back. Suddenly it was fashionable to have an opinion about the flag - even if that opinion was to stick with the status quo.
The four flag designs that made the final cut ahead of a referendum in November are either total dogs, a missed opportunity, or an exciting symbol of change, depending on who you ask. On the other side of the debate is the current flag, with its overt nod to Britain, and our shared history with old allies like Australia, which is either an anachronism or a flag worth dying for - again, depending on who you ask.Prime Minister John Key's favoured flag design. It didn't make the cut.
If social media is any guide, the old and familiar wins hands down. Key won't be too worried about that. The stridency of the opposition to Tuesday's final four has at last given the debate some momentum - something it lacked up till now. When Key announced the referendum, he hoped to carry the flag debate on a tide of nationalism in Rugby World Cup year. But it failed to fire the public's imagination. Labour's argument - that it was a waste of money up against more pressing concerns - seemed to be gaining more traction.
NZ First leader Winston Peters has also sniffed the winds and come out agitating for people to lodge a protest vote in the November referendum by writing "no change" on their ballot paper. A low turnout or a big protest vote would put pressure on Key to scrap the second referendum. Which is why Tuesday's huge response - negative or not - will bring a sigh of relief around the Cabinet table. As polarising as they are, the four flag designs have at least given people a reason to vote. When Key launched the referendum, it might have seemed that losing the argument for change would be the biggest disaster. But the bigger disaster politically would be if nobody cared enough to vote....more at linkhttp://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politic ... wn-to-four