This flag debate continues to throw up sad and sorry surprises. Fresh from evidence that pro-change campaigners are pilfering ballots in a literal attempt to steal the referendum result coming to light ... we have bold allegations from NZ First MP Mahesh Bindra that the Government has deliberately mistranslated the voting instructions in order to attempt to con Hindi-language voters into supporting flag-change.
Despite what the Electoral Commission might say, the charge appears to have merit. My knowledge of Hindi is limited to what I've managed to pick up from attempting (haltingly) to master ecclesiastical Sanskrit, but even I know that "Naya" (the highlighted word in the image of the voting instructions below) means "new".
While it could be queried just how much of an influence or impact one additional word might have on prospective voters' decision-making, the fact remains that consistency is a core and integral value to our democratic process.
However you choose to slice it, there does appear to be a bit of an issue here - and one which the Government is willfully seeking to obfuscate.
But something which has caused me additional concern is New Zealand First's proposed solution to this issue: disallowing the ballots of "Hindi speaking voters".
This seems somewhat extreme.
I might be missing something here, but I'm not entirely sure how NZF proposes to single out "Hindi-speaking voters" who've used the deficient voting instructions (rather than, say, the perfectly clear English ones - which most of them will also understand) in order to make their decision.
Unless I'm mistaken, voting papers have not gone out in a multitude of languages - just the voting instructions pamphlet which accompanies them. Short of the sort of highly dubious racial profiling Labour used to identify the ethnicities of Auckland house buyers last year, it would seem pretty difficult to isolate and identify which voters - and therefore which ballot papers - we're talking about here.
New Zealand First has done some serious hard work in recent years to reach out to Indian voters. It is a mark of genuine pride that when I go into a Mandir, people almost invariably know who Mahesh is and have respect for him. That strong and burgeoning relationship is, no doubt, why members of the Indian community came to Mahesh with the information he used to support the allegation in the first place. Because they trust him - as do I.
It would be an inordinate shame if the message the Indian community took away from this particular imbroglio was that New Zealand First didn't want them to vote.
Work for it: On Rohan Lord & the L'Oreal candidates - My, how politics has changed. As with so much of the New Zealand lifestyle it has been streamlined, professionalised and become a much more risk-adverse ...
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