Flag change massive conspiracy to pass the TPPA?

Flag change massive conspiracy to pass the TPPA?

We've been talking a lot about changing the flag, and based on what you're telling us, so are all of you out there.

A letter Story received asked us to look into some of the more sinister ramifications of changing the flag.

It seems a huge number of people are concerned the flag change is simply the first step in removing some of our constitutional rights and ushering in the TPPA.

Well, is it?

The moon landings, the JFK assassination, all those chemtrails clogging up our skies – they're all great examples of the conspiracy theory.

Now we have our own. It starts, predictably, on Facebook and involves our flag.

"Due authority in a nation like New Zealand is represented on the New Zealand flag by the Union Jack. If you take away the due authority of law, then you open the gates of hell, or to be precise the means with which John Key can sign the TPPA."

Yes, that little Union Jack, in the corner of our flag represents our "due authority" – whatever that is. And ah, the TPPA, that trade deal all those people protested about. Of course! Is this how they're going to get it over the line?

"Old grandmothers write in and say the GCSB are spying on them and the Romans and Phoenicians were here before the Maori, so that in terms of insanity, it's only moderately nuts," says Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

But politicians would say that, wouldn't they?

"If the due authority of the state can be removed, then the TPPA can be signed [and] the due authority of the TPPA would supersede the power of any New Zealand laws already in place, such as the Bill of Rights."

"We should be as worried about this as we should be worried about an infestation of flesh-eating zombies taking over the country," says University of Otago constitutional law expert Professor Andrew Geddis. "One is just as likely to happen as the other."

"It would be a novel constitutional argument that the sovereignty of New Zealand was dependent on one corner of the New Zealand flag," says Mr Finlayson.

But hold on, "due authority" is written in caps, which must mean something pretty serious, surely?

"I can't really explain due authority because it seems to be a phrase the person has made up and put in capital letters on the internet," says Prof Geddis.

"It doesn't make sense to me, but obviously there are people who put something in it. I think it's a bit of Key Derangement Syndrome – people just dislike John Key so much they're prepared to believe anything. This just isn't true."

Rest assured, whichever flag you plan to vote for, it's just a flag.

"The flag referendum is simply about what set of symbols you like on a bit of cloth to represent us as a country," says Prof Geddis. "It has no meaning above and beyond that. It has no meaning for the constitution at all."

So, feel free to put this flag theory alongside '9/11 was in inside job' and 'Area 51 contains alien spacecraft'.

The TPPA is a very big trade deal, but it is still just a trade deal. Our government has signed lots of trade deals over the years without needing to change the flag.

Another thing – changing the flag will not affect the Treaty of Waitangi. In fact, our existing flag was introduced 61 years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.