First steps taken towards flag referendum
Cabinet has agreed on the details of the flag referendum process and every political party represented in Parliament has been invited to take part, say Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.
“Our flag is the most important symbol of our national identity and I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation,” Mr Key says.
“However, as I have also said, retaining the current flag is a possible outcome of this process and the consideration of options will be done carefully, respectfully and with no presumption in favour of change.”
Cabinet has agreed that Deputy Prime Minister Bill English will be the minister responsible for the flag consideration process.
Letters were last week sent to each of the political party leaders in Parliament inviting them to nominate an MP to join a cross-party group of MPs which will have two key tasks, Mr English says.
“The first will be nominating suitable candidates for a Flag Consideration Panel, which will be a group of respected New Zealanders who will seek submissions from the public on new flag designs and suggestions.
“The second task will be to review the draft legislation which will enable the proposed two binding referendums on the flag to go ahead. The first referendum, which will be held late next year, will invite the public to choose a preferred design from a range put forward by the Flag Consideration Panel, and the second referendum, to be held in 2016, will be a run-off between the preferred design and the current flag.
“We are today releasing the Cabinet paper which outlines the details and timeframe that Cabinet has agreed on,” Mr English says.
“This includes the principles that will guide the consideration process, the projected timeline and costs. The total cost spread across two financial years is estimated at $25.7 million, with most of that going on the referendums themselves and on the public engagement process which is required to ensure that the public is well-informed and has the opportunity to participate.”
The leaders of political parties have been asked to make their nominations by Monday, November 10. As sole MPs, ACT Leader David Seymour and United Future Leader Peter Dunne have agreed to join the cross-party group to represent their respective parties.