New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wants to change the country’s flag. The country’s leader has raised the possibility of a national referendum on changing the national flag because the current one looks a lot like Australia’s.
“It has international recognition and sometimes our flag gets confused with Australia’s,” Mr Key told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he’d “like to see a change.”
He explained that the Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner of the current flag is similar to their neighbouring country’s flag, which also has a Union Jack in the same spot.
His personal preference for the replacement flag would display a silver fern on a black background, which is already used by the country’s sporting teams such as the All Blacks.
Mr Key is only hesitant to pursue the matter because “it’s not the single biggest issue that we as a country face.” The flag issue might distract them from more important issues.
“And secondly, even with those who want to change, there’s not universal support for what we should change to.”
He believes that should a referendum on the matter be pursued, it must be a simple choice between the current Union Jack flag and the silver fern on black background.
Mr Key planned to discuss with the senior ministers about the possibility of holding a referendum on the issue.
Labour internal affairs spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said that the party supports holding a referendum, but the RSAs (Returned Services’ Association) and other similar organisations should still be allowed to fly the current flag if they wish to.
NZ First leader Winston Peters agrees that there should be a referendum, but doesn’t think that it could be departed properly in time before the next election, according to Fairfax NZ News.
Hone Harawira, leader of the left-wing Mana Party, meanwhile wanted to see the Maori ‘Tino Rangatiratanga’ flag used.
“It’s more reflective of our history, of our world, and it shows that we’re not just babies of Queen Victoria we are our own people, an independent nation,” Mr Harawira said.
He also liked the silver fern idea, but said that the public should be asked for inputs as well.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said that the issue isn’t what the Maori are discussing right now, but they are open with holding a referendum. Greens co-leader Russell Norman also doesn’t oppose a referendum.
ACT leader John Banks, however, wants the current flag to stay, saying that “Men fought under that flag and sacrificed their lives in many war campaigns.”
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