The Prime Minister says the flag debate has been a success, regardless of which flag ends up winning the referendum.
Whether or not the new silver fern tea-towel design – the PM’s preference – wins or the old Union Jack flag is retained, John Key says the process has been a success.
“This has been a great process.” he said at a stand-up outside Sky City Casino earlier today where he was again criticising Labour’s Future of Work proposals with the many CrosbyTextor lines such as “barking mad,” and “59 billion,” he has been using in recent days.
The Prime Minister told his compliant media friends the process has been a victory for democracy.
“More than two million people have voted,” he said, “that’s more than the population of most of the South Island I think. This really has been a successful process.”
When one of the media pointed out that most of New Zealand, including the RSA, young people, middle-aged people, and older people had told him to “piss off,” Key was defiant.
“No, I don’t think that’s the case,” he said, “People have told me over and over again during this process that the it’s not every day they get to vote in something this expensive and unnecessary.
“We are making people vote,” he said, “This is forced democracy at it’s finest. People were so scared that some stupid piece of tat was going to end up as their national flag – and this close to an olympics – that they felt they had to get out there and vote. They felt they needed to vote to stop a $2 shop tea towel being raised when in Rio. I’m the most democratic Prime Minister ever!”
When asked about how this failed referendum would reflect on his legacy as Prime Minister, Key said, “I don’t need a legacy. At the end of the day I’ve got millions so, yeah, nah. Right… I’m off to hide in Hawaii for a bit.”
With the Flag Referendum voting papers sent out over the weekend, MyThinks had been doing some thinks-ing. We’ve been wondering what exactly John Key’s legacy will be. In years to come will people look back on his premiership wearing the rose frosted glasses reserved for so many of our former leaders (except Shipley)? Or will people just look back at the Key years with a massive sense of seething resentment similar to how people viewed the presidency of Slippery Nixon? We may never know… or will we?
Over the weekend we sent our reporter forward in time to the year 2030 to check out the legacy of John Philip Key. Late Sunday night she filed this report.
I arrive at entry to the gated community in Remuera. After having my retinas lasar-scanned and core samples taken from my abdomen, the police allow us through the large golden gates. The self-drive Googlecar takes me through a small forest which, according to the sexy Googlevoice coming from the dash, contains the only remaining partly bionic kiwi on the New Zealand mainland. I pull in to what is either a giant house or a small mansion. A large limestone statue of 35-year-old Max Key complete with beer belly and dreadlocks graces the lawn in front of the manor. The Googlecar comes to a stop outside the house and I’m ejected onto the road. As it drives off I pick myself up and walk to the front door.
Inside I am seated in the library I wait. Three hours later the Robobutler returns and informs me Sir Johnson Key is on his way. Twenty minutes later Key walks in deposits himself in the chair next to the fire and smiles warmly. A well-worn Kyle Lockwood button takes pride place on his left lapel. He gives it a quick polish before opening a draw in the side table and offering me three buttons.
“It’s ok,” he tells me, “I’ve got about 78,462 left. Help yourself.”
Aware I have a limited amount of time before I have to travel back through the portal, I’m keen to get on with it.
“Please,” he interrupts, “call me Sir Johnson.”
“Please,” he interrupts again, “call me Johnson.”
“Johnson…” I begin.
“How long have you had that hair?” he interrupts, “it doesn’t look at taut as should. Would you like me to tighten it for you? I have very strong wrists.”
“No thank you,” I decline, “Can I start asking questions now?”
“It seems,” he says with a raised eyebrow, “you already have.”
I ignore the creepy innuendo from the 69-year-old former politician and continue.
“It’s been nearly 14 years since you were rolled by the dream ticket of Judith Collins & Craig Foss while you were out of the country playing golf with Barak Obama. In your time as Prime Minister you presided over the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership which led to a massive rise in unemployment; inequality rose significantly while National was in power; your flag referendum cost somewhere between $20 and $35 million and failed to ignite a debate in a country that’s was looking to break free from its colonial past. What do you see as your legacy?”
“I’m a modern guy,” Johnson tells me, “I can look back on my time as Prime Minister and say, hand on heart, that I’m absolutely proud of everything I did.”
“Even the ponytail stuff?”
“Especially the ponytail stuff,” he says confidently, “many, many people told me how demeaning and sexist that was, but it was behaviour I persevered with even in the face of international ridicule and widespread criticism. That takes a special kind of leadership to pull that off, if you’ll pardon the pun.”
“Yes,” I say, disappointed somewhat but unsurprised with his answer, “but is there anything you are particularly proud of?”
“Oh yes,” he says, “The flag referendum. That was a defining moment in my premiership. New Zealand were asked to vote for a change and they voted.”
“But the flag didn’t change,” I remind him.
“But people voted,” he said, “and that was the point of the referendum. We never intended to the flag referendum to be about changing the flag. It was about getting New Zealanders angry enough to enrol to vote. And they did. They enrolled and they voted. So the entire process was a huge success – especially for Maggie Barry. So many people thought she still worked in television until that referendum. Great stuff.”
“Do you seriously believe that?”
“Absolutely. That is exactly why we changed the flag. Maggie Barry told us to change the flag so we did. Simple.”
At this point I just let him go for it.
“Dame Maggie was so lovely. It was such a shame to see her succumb to that carrot addiction.”
The slight pause allows me to ask another question. I decide this will be it. The former leader is obviously now more senile than he has ever been.
“How did you feel when Judith Collins and Craig Foss rolled you as leader in just the same way Jenny Shipley rolled Jim Bolger all those years before. You were out of the country. How did you feel being relegated to the back-bench on your return?”
“Oh… the succession plan worked incredibly well. I told Judith before I left that she could have my seat on the front bench. I was getting a bit board of yelling abuse at Labour and the Greens. There is only so long one can bully someone else without landing any actual blows before the whole process gets incredibly boring. Yes, Jude was quick to jump onboard with the plan and I got my cushy seat….”
I don’t hear the rest of the reply. I’ve heard enough. Just as he did with his premiership, Sir Johnson Key has spent much of his retirement reinventing the truth.
My Googlecar is waiting for me at the door. Just like the Chrome web browser, it seemed to know exactly what I wanted before I did. Google is fantastic.
As I pull out and down the driveway past the 3 metre high Max Key statue I can’t help thinking to myself that perhaps when she was carving it out of Oamaru limestone, Stephie Key could have considered clothing it. Thankfully, once I return through the portal, I will never have to look at it again.
NOTE: Readers will notice the timeline we sent our reporter to was the timeline where the flag referendum failed to vote in the Lockwood design. We made the call early on that it was highly unlikely the flag would be changed because so many New Zealanders thought this referendum such a massive waste of time and money. We gambled on not sending our reporter to that timeline because we thought it probably didn’t exist. We hope this hasn’t disappointed too many of our readers.
With voting papers for John Key’s flag referendum in the post MyThinks thought we should interview the government’s chief flag waver Maggie Barry. We tracked her down in a Takapuna cafe wearing nothing but the flag she is voting for.
MT: Ms Barry.
MB: That is me. Please sit down young man.
MT: Thank you. I’m going to get straight into it. Now, the government has been scrambling this week over the referendum. You’ve been fronting all the media. Why isn’t the Prime Minister doing any media?
MB: Oh, it’s not that the PM isn’t doing any media. He’s still talking to The Edge about his shower/toilet and he’s been on Hosking’s show many times. After all, Hosking is the official broadcaster of the National Party.
MT: OK then. So the Lockwood design – what are your thoughts? It’s a bit of a mish mash isn’t it?
MB: I think it’s fantastic. It’s got the fern on it. And some stars. And a bit of blue and black. It really says everything about who we are as a country. We are a nation of $2 shops and this design is already on the products inside every single one.
MT: Yes. I got a lockwood tea towel the other day. So does John Key feel embarrassed by this whole process? Are the knives out in caucus for his presiding over such a failed process?
MB: Oh lord no. John Key’s backed a winner here. We are going to take out this referendum. John’s a winner. Such a winner.
MT: And what is your polling saying?
MB: That we’re going to lose but signs are positive.
MT: Positive of what?
MB: That this will all be over soon…
MT: Indeed. In retrospect do you think there was anything you could have done differently?
MB: Oh no. I think everyone – the flag consideration panel, the designers, the National Party, and all the other supporters – did everything John Key wanted.
*slight pause on tape*
MB: Um… so when does the interview start?
MT: What? Oh… sorry… no we’re already done.
MB: Oh…. oh dear. I didn’t mean for any of that to be on the record…. I’m not even in actual clothes… Do you do takesie-backsies?
MB: Oh well… that’s me back on Judith’s side then. See you.
MT: Yes, minister.
It is a wonderful day my fellow New Zealanders. I, John Key, your esteemed leader am full of playful banter. We’ve all had our say. Thank you for participating in this month’s referendum.
The results are in. We now have a two-horse race between our current flag and all it represents in the building of our young nation and a logo the Flag Consideration Panel spotted on the back of a pack of tissues in the Hataitai $2 Shop.
At the end of the day, the important thing is that the design I told the panel to put on the referendum twice has won.
We also need to remember that as we reach the end of our shelf-lives, great politicians such as myself, start thinking about their legacy. In our time in office, what have we done to impact the country? Helen Clark created Working for Families; Michael Cullen set up the Cullen Superannuation Fund; Sir Robert Muldoon called a general election after drinking a case of single malt.
All these people have done something. What have I done? What will I be remembered for? Sure, a bit of blokey sexual harassment or weeing in the shower looks good on your resumé when you’re applying for a cushy job at the IMF, but imagine being the guy that forced a referendum that nobody wanted on a country that didn’t care. And then won?
Now that would be an achievement.
So when you vote in the second part of this flag referendum, just remember that you’d be doing me a solid if you voted for my logo.
Head of Bantery Harassment,
The National Party of New Zealand.
We here in the government care about a lot of stuff. From the ninth floor of the Beehive, our care trickles down to the masses like a failed economic experiment. Quite often we ask ourselves the hard questions. Like, for instance, how can we best care for our nation? What, as politicians and leaders, can we do to rise above partisan arguments about stagnant wages, unaffordable housing, and children with no shoes?
Why not have a referendum on the flag?
I mean, we in the government talk to a lot of people. Last week we talked to Brian waiting in line down at Work and Income. He told us he’d rather vote in a referendum than feed his kids. He asked us if there were any referendums currently planned. We were able to tell him yes. Yes there was. He was soooo excited. What a great bloke.
The flag referendum is a chance for New Zealanders from all across New Zealand to vote on which strip of material they thinks best represents New Zealand when people are talking about New Zealand in an outside of New Zealand context.
A flag is very important to a country’s mana. Canada, for example, has a fantastic flag. Two colours, in three strips with a picture of a leaf on it. What about the United States of America? All those stars and stripes. Don’t bother with Australia. They just copied us and put on an extra star.
We in the government think it’s important that we get a chance to change to a flag that more represents the corporate interests that we represent.
A flag is more than just a flappy thing at the top of a flag-pole. A flag is an ensign that tells the world, “Hey! Look at us!! We’re a country, god-damn-it!” It can also tell the world that this block of cheese, pound of butter, or pottle of yoghurt was produced with love in a country that prides itself on cosying up to the middle man – especially if that middle man as graduated up through the ranks and is now running the company/organisation.
What would you like to see more on your butter? A flag that was a quarter the flag of another country, or a flag that sort of looked a bit like the old flag with parts of the All Blacks flag on it?
Yes. That’s what we thought.
So when you are voting in the flag referendum this week, just remember that no matter what anyone else says, this government cares about you and that is why you deserve this chance of a lifetime.
Thank you and good afternoon.
H. M. Government.