Flag Bill Advances

by Desk Editor on Thursday, March 12, 2015 — 5:10 PM

A flag referendum bill has been sent to select committees with parties disagreeing about the process.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill reflects National’s commitment at the last election to hold a referendum on the New Zealand flag.

The bill had been shaped by a cross-party process for a process of two referendums. One to choose a preferred new flag and the second referendum between the current flag and the most preferred new flag.

The first referendum Nov/Dec this year would use preferential voting and around March next year the second would be a straight choice.

Mr English said it may be the case those who supported the current flag being retained might vote for what they think is the worst flag in the first referendum and this would be up to them.

Mr English said he personally was biased in favour of the current flag because he knew what it was, but was keen to see what an alternative might look like.

An independent panel would select its four preferred alternative flags and submit this to him and Cabinet for approval.

The Government felt it was best for voters to decide on whether they wanted a new flag or not when they knew what the alternative might be.

Trevor Mallard said the latest polling shows most people are opposed to a change. Labour wanted the first referendum to include an option ruling out a flag change to potentially save time and money.

Mr Mallard said all parties but National wanted to have a veto option in the first referendum, but National wanted a “vanity project” for the Prime Minister when the money could be better spent elsewhere

Mr Mallard said he personally supported a change to a new flag, but Labour would be opposing the bill unless the bill included a veto option in the first referendum.

The bill completed its first reading by 76 to 43 with National, Greens, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in support and was sent to the Justice and Electoral committee with a report back date of July 29.

MPs then returned to the committee stage of the Construction Contracts Amendment Bill.

ParliamentToday.co.nz is a breaking news source for New Zealand parliamentary business featuring broadcast daily news reports

Previous post:

Next post: