Key gets cornered by common sense on Flag Debate

This New Zealand national blue ensign flag was flown at Quinn's Post, Gallipoli, in 1915. The flag was brought back to New Zealand by Private John Taylor, Canterbury Battalion.

This New Zealand national blue ensign flag was flown at Quinn’s Post, Gallipoli, in 1915. The flag was brought back to New Zealand by Private John Taylor, Canterbury Battalion.

Legislation to set up the two referendums on the flag has passed its first hearing in Parliament but Labour and NZ First both withheld support, saying it could save millions of dollars if New Zealanders were asked if the flag should change in the first referendum.

The Flag Referendums Bill passed its first stage by 76 votes to 43 today and will be considered by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

NZ First’s spokesman for constitutional review, Denis O’Rourke, said the Government should first ask the public whether they wanted to change the flag before ploughing ahead with a costly process to select designs for a new flag and holding a further referendum.

In the bill, the first referendum will ask voters to rank their preferences from a shortlist of four designs for a new flag. In the second referendum next year, voters will choose between the old and new flags.

“If the government was really interested in asking if New Zealanders want a new flag, it should ask that simple question first. It has got the process the wrong way around.

I agree. ?There may not be enough support for change in the first place. ? By being offered a closed question “which of these do you want?” and having no option for to prevent change at all is seriously the wrong way around.

Ultimately, not enough people might want the change to a single choice either. ?For example, if 3 options go up, and “no change” isn’t allowed, then you could get a 33%, 33% and 34% split, where the 34% would be the winner, but most people do not want it.

If 47% of people want no change and not even half of?those that want change agree on what to change to, what the hell are we doing here?

I’ll make a prediction today: ?if a change is achieved, less than half of the NZ population will have chosen it.

 

– Claire Trevett, NZ Herald

 

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