Will we get to vote on the flag this year?

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key’s tentative proposal to change the national flag has wide support within Parliament, although he admits that debate about an alternative design could distract people from more important issues during election year.

Mr Key planned to discuss a new flag with senior ministers and possibly put it to a referendum as part of this year’s election.

He said that finding a consensus on a new flag would be difficult and if ministers backed a change, the Government would decide on a design and ask the public to vote for or against it.

“We have to make it simple,” he said yesterday.

The flag could be changed by legislation, but Mr Key said it was a constitutional issue and required consultation.

He publicly backed replacing the flag with a silver fern in 2010.

Young Kiwis have already adopted the silver fern as the de facto flag. When Kiwis backpack overseas, they often wear the fern. You see it at sporting events. I know several people who have a tattoo of it. I’ve yet to find anyone who has a tattoo of the current !

The proposal was backed by most political parties yesterday.

Labour Party deputy leader David Parker said it was not an important issue, but he supported a change to a red, white and blue design by an unnamed Dunedin designer which incorporated Maori and colonial influences.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the present flag “smacks of British imperialism” and recommended the Union Jack be removed.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who negotiated with the Government to get a Maori flag flown from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day, said it was “time for for us to grow up and move on”.

He flew the Tino Rangitiratanga flag on his car but said any flag would be an improvement on the Union Jack and Southern Cross.

On this issue, I agree with Hone. I find the current flag absolutely uninspiring, and at a distance very difficult to differentiate from Australia’s.

I want a flag that will be our equivalent of the Canadian Maple Leaf – instantly recognisable as a NZ symbol.

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