An absurd idea put to the Justice and Electoral Committee is to give children a vote on the flag.
The first obvious objection is that there should be no vote because the flag we already have flies just fine, thank you.
The second is that we already have heaps of adults who should not be allowed to vote, so lowering the age limit to allow their spawn to share the privilege is too much for Alf to stomach.
But hey – there’s always some plonker ready to promote a silly idea.
And there’s always some political scribe only too willing to give it a bit of oxygen with a provocative introductory paragraph.
Stuff kicks off its report with a sentence suggesting this particular idea has much more legitimacy – and momentum – than it deserves:
New Zealand could be recognised as the first country in the world to give children the vote, starting with the flag referendum.
Yes, it could.
On the other hand, no, it could not and will not if there is enough sense on the Justice and Electoral select committee which has been hearing submissions about the flag referendum and whether a new flag is needed.
The idea came from someone who is only identified by his name.
Michael Gibson told MPs that all school-age children should be given the vote and be involved in the decision-making process.
Internationally New Zealand would be recognised as “not only the first country to give women the vote but also the first country to give children the vote”.
He said giving children aged 5-and-over a vote on the flag referendum would be “giving a vote to those who will be living the longest with the consequences”.
“By being involved in the decision-making process school children would feel empowered. The important subject of social studies will be boosted and have even more meaning,” he said.
“To choose between four pictures might have the merit of getting the input of people who simply like the simplest and most attractive picture.”
Alf does not recall a referendum being held to decide on the flag we now have.
The polls with which he is familiar suggest most people are happy with the flag nevertheless.
Gibson disagreed with one committee member’s suggestion that “pressure groups” would be waving banners and flags outside of schools.
He ruled it out as a problem.
He would, wouldn’t he?
When you come up with a silly idea, you are unlikely to recognise its silliness.
Gibson, with a bit of luck, might have noted that most submitters at the select committee hearing were against the flag being changed.
Someone called Catherine Underwood told MPs the money would be better spent on improved poles given how “limp” the flag hung when there wasn’t any wind.
Alf happens to be interested in this suggestion, to see if it has any application to overcoming a limpness condition from which he personally suffers nowadays.
Other submitters reportedly were concerned at the $26 million price tag for the referendums.
Alex Dittmer said there were children going hungry in New Zealand every day and countries like Nepal in need of aid – both issues that needed the money more than a change of flag.
Aidan Work is “totally opposed on historical and emotional grounds” to a flag change and told MPs to “leave it alone”.
He said he’d rather “run a Union Jack up a pole” than see a change.
And Alf would rather run a pole up a flag-changer’s jacksie, rather than see change.
But it should be rammed up Gibson’s jacksie first – and up the jacksies of anyone on the committee who saw merit in his idea.