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Flag Bill Completes Its First Reading

The New Zealand Flag Referendums Amendment Bill has completed its first reading.

The bill will allow a fifth alternative New Zealand flag to be considered in the upcoming referendum with the intent to allow the Red Peak flag to be entered.

Gerry Brownlee on behalf of the responsible minister said the bill was largely the construction of Green MP Gareth Hughes in recognition that a large number of people wanted to include the Red Peak flag in the referendum.

The current law only allowed for four flags and this bill would allow a fifth option to run alongside them in the November referendum. It would change nothing else.

Mr Brownlee said the Government had confidence in the panel which chose the four options, but it had a difficult job in narrowing down the options. The flag the subject of so much attention had not been popular initially but this had grown in recent weeks and the Government wanted to acknowledge this.

Labour Leader Andrew Little said the bill was the latest twist in what had been shambolic process to satisfy Prime Minister John Key’s vanity project. Labour still wanted the first referendum to include a yes or no vote on changing the flag. Mr Little said he was in favour of changing the flag now, but it was up to the public whether this happened.

Gareth Hughes said he believed New Zealanders wanted more of a choice and it was good to see politicians able to work together to allow this. He said he had been lukewarm on the Red Peak flag initially, but had warmed to it as the debate rolled on.

The bill completed its first reading by 107 to 12 with NZ First opposed and MPs immediately began the second reading.

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