Flag referendum: Where does the $26 million go?
The $26 million being spent to hold a referendum on the flag has been a sticking point for many New Zealanders who would think the money could be better spent elsewhere.
So where does all that money go? And what else could the Government do with $26 million?
By far the biggest cost involved with the flag change process is the two postal referendums - the first to determine the most popular alternative flag and the second for that flag to go head-to-head with the existing one.
The first referendum, which gets underway on November 20 and will determine which of five flags is the most popular alternative, is set to cost tax-payers $10.3 million. The second, a head-to-head between the winner of the first referendum and the current flag to be held in March 2016, will cost a further $7 million.
The other significant cost was the public consultation period, which came in at $6.7 million. The majority of this was to pay for communications and engagement, while almost $800,000 was spent on the website and a further $200,000 on the poorly attended public meetings, held throughout New Zealand earlier this year.
So while $26 million dollars might seem like a lot of money to spend on changing (or not changing) a national emblem, in the context of the annual expenditure of the New Zealand Government it is a miniscule amount.
The 2015 Budget sets out $88.9 billion in Government spending for the coming financial year. The money spent on the flag referendum will account for about 0.0029 per cent of this budget.
So what else does $26 million get the tax-payer? Here are a few examples of similar expenses in the 2015/16 Budget:
*$26.8 million for development of Central City anchor projects for the Christchurch rebuild
*$27 million for the Crown's contribution to regional pest management
*$27.1 million for policy advice to the Ministry of Primary Industries.