The Courier-Mail

TAKING A FROND FROM THE KIWIS’ BOOK

New Zealand is again showing it’s big cousin across the ditch how to get things done as the Kiwis set about choosing a new flag without all the unnecessar­y navelgazin­g that seems to so afflict decisionma­king in Australia

- DENNIS ATKINS

As a country surely we can consider lots of different issues at once

JOHN KEY

I T WAS a typical and familiar stuff-up that greeted the New Zealand junior water polo team at Volos in Greece this week.

The team were shown to their spot only to find they were in front of a red naval ensign used only by Australian ships at sea.

The New Zealand flag was nowhere to be seen – something our cousins from across the Tasman encounter regularly.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says he gets it at world leader summits, with his more recent experience being at APEC when he was ushered to the seat reserved for Tony Abbott – a mistake sparked by the fact the staff couldn’t distinguis­h between the two countries’ flags.

Key, the conservati­ve National Party leader who has long wanted to change the New Zealand flag, is going to do just that with an official selection of options released this week along with a very direct, plainly spoken eightminut­e video in which the PM outlines the case for ditching the existing flag.

For Australian­s in the middle of another episode of “what do we do about marriage equality” – something that may head to a popular vote sometime in the future – it is another example from ‘the little country that could’ about how to do, rather than just talk.

Whether it’s gay marriage (legislated in New Zealand in April, 2013) or tax reform (a major shift from personal income tax to a higher GST five years ago), it seems the land of the long white cloud is way ahead of Australia when it comes to actually enacting change. Key is a vital part of this government activism. A former banker and a less-thancharis­matic leader, the NZ Prime Minister believes in what his advisers call simple authentici­ty.

It is a bit folksy but undeniably genuine. It’s also very popular among New Zealanders.

His eightminut­e video on the flag is an example of this no-frills salesmansh­ip. Since it was posted on Key’s Facebook page on Wednesday, the video has been viewed almost 750,000 times – extraordin­ary for what’s essentiall­y a political monologue.

Key points out the current New Zealand flag is not the first or original one.

In fact there have been three, and no one could remember when it last changed or who did it.

“No one remembers it. If that’s the only reason why people are against it, don’t worry about me getting any

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