Flag process is structured correctly, English says

  • Bill English
Deputy Prime Minister

The process for considering the New Zealand flag is structured in the best way to give the fairest outcome, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

A petition before the Justice and Electoral Committee today suggested that the question, “Do you want to change the flag?” should be added to the first referendum on the flag, which is likely to be held in November or December this year.

Mr English says the purpose of the first referendum is to allow people to rank four alternative flag designs that will be chosen by the Flag Consideration Panel following public consultation. The design that gets the most support in that referendum will go through to a second referendum where voters will choose between it and the current flag.

“Those are logical steps, designed to give the fairest outcome,” Mr English says. “It makes sense that people should know the alternative before they vote on whether they want to change the flag.

“We also have advice that if the change question was asked at the first referendum it could not only cause confusion but even if it meant a second referendum was not required, the financial saving for the Electoral Commission would be only about $2.3 million.”

Many people are already taking the opportunity to put forward alternative designs, Mr English says. 

“I think many New Zealanders realise that it is a rare privilege to have the opportunity to vote on such an important symbol for our country.

“There is a cost of about $26 million in running an independent and public process, but New Zealanders have not considered this issue formally for more than 100 years and we are committed to allowing full public participation.”