16 Sep 2015

Red Peak left dangling as politicians wrangle

5:08 pm on 16 September 2015

The political standoff over adding a fifth design to the flag referendum continues.

Red Peak NZ Flag

Photo: SUPPLIED / Rick Davidson

Labour and the Government are in a stand-off over the planned referendums, with Prime Minister John Key challenging Labour to back the inclusion of the Red Peak flag in the line-up of options, and the referendum as it stands.

But Labour wants Mr Key to ask voters, in the first referendum in November, whether they even want to change the flag.

Mr Key today said the Government would not compromise on changing the flag referendum questions but he was happy to have the Red Peak design added to the ballot paper.

He said he was happy to meet Mr Little to discuss the matter - but he would need to ditch the condition about changing the question.

"They just keep playing games, you know they just keep wanting to re-litigate the issue about the yes/no [question].

"You can't ask people if they want to change their flag, unless they know what they are changing it to, I mean that is a very salient point for a huge number of people who will make the decision about whether to change or not."

Mr Key said it would be Labour leader Andrew Little's fault if Red Peak did not make it on to the ballot paper.

After his comment's, Labour released a letter it sent to Mr Key requesting a meeting.

In it, Mr Little said it would be Labour's preference to change the questions but he made it clear that he was happy to meet in good faith and without preconditions.

Mr Little said it was Mr Key who was playing politics now, by suggesting that only Labour could put Red Peak on the ballot paper.

"He could do that tomorrow without any assistance simply by sending the finalists back to the Flag Consideration Panel who could substitute Red Peak.

"This has been his project, his process, his priority for this term. Trying to now blame Labour for its botch-up is breathtakingly arrogant."

Earlier, Mr Little tried to table a member's bill in Parliament to add the Red Peak to the referendum, and change the questions, but it was blocked.