READER REPORT:

We all deserve our say on the flag

TREVOR YAO
Last updated 07:00 11/10/2015
New Zealand's current flag will be up for vote in a referendum.
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New Zealand's current flag will be up for vote in a referendum.

Final five New Zealand flags: Which is your favourite?

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Which is your favourite flag?

Five reasons we should change our flag Five reasons we should keep our flag Make your vote for a fair referendum If you settle for less that's what you get We should give flag money to the poor Red Peak: A flag for all New Zealanders Opinion: There is no such thing as the 'perfect flag' Are we really ready for a flag change? I'm ashamed of our flag options We all deserve our say on the flag

Reading the comments from my previous submission 'Flag debate: Let us choose to say 'no' to change', it is clear that people have misunderstood Labour's proposed changes to the referendum, and have thus misunderstood my views.

Let me make it clear, I want a flag change. But I also respect those who do not, which happens to be majority of my friends and family.

I want them to be able to have a say in both referendums. I am not advocating a change to the voting order. I am of the opinion that the first referendum must consist of people selecting their favourite design, and that the second must pit New Zealand's favourite against the current flag so that we can finally decide as a country if the finalist is truly worthy of being our new flag.

And after reading and understanding Labour's proposal, I believe they also agree on this.

You see, Labour's proposal was not to change the referendum order like most people claim. Rather, they had proposed to add a question to the first referendum. Thus, they are proposing the following (see the image for Labour's draft of the first referendum in this article).

Referendum 1: Should NZ keep its current flag or change it, AND if you were to change to another flag, which would you pick?

Referendum 2: Which would you pick between the most popular alternate flag versus the current New Zealand flag.

This means that I can still vote for my favourite (red/blue fern) in the first referendum while my friends and family can vote for keeping the current flag at the same time. This is essentially the same process as what we have now, except that we do not need a second referendum if majority of kiwis do not want a flag change. From my perspective, everybody gets to have a say. That is how democracy should be.

Labour's alternative suggestion during last week's debate for assessing the need for the second referendum based on voter turnout of the first also makes sense. It is the same as our current process, so there is no need to tinker with referendum questions. It simply allows those who do not want a change to have their voice heard by not voting.

READ MORE:

* It's the worst flag of the five, but Red Peak's inclusion is the right one
* John Key would vote Red Peak over status quo
* The flag designs are utter rubbish

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As to the question of whether there is still any of the $26 million leftover, one would think that there must be some money left. After all, they could not have fully spent their money on the second referendum since we have not yet had out first to select our favourite design. Even if it is just one of two million left over, surely that is still money worth saving on the off-chance that majority do not want a new flag?

The key point overall is that those who do not want to change the flag, which "not-sophisticated-enough" polls indicate could very well be the majority, also have a right to say "no" right from the start.

Before I finish, I want to apologize to the group who were offended by my comment that spending $26 million and ending up with our current flag was equivalent to "nothing to show for it". My wording for that was too strong.

I want to make it clear that it was not my intention to denounce our current flag, and was not the key message I was trying to get through.

If anything, I would be more than happy to keep it.

The point I was trying to get across was that, if there is a possibility to reach that conclusion at the end of the first referendum, and save the money that was to be spent on a second referendum, wouldn't that be better overall?

Granted, majority could vote "yes" in the first referendum, and "no" in the second. If this is the case I would still be happy with the result as everyone has had a say.

However, if we do not put in the "yes/no" question at the start, and we end up with the same flag, we might be left to wonder whether we could have saved some money by simply asking "yes/no" to begin with.

I think about it this way: why buy paint to repaint your house if you never wanted to repaint it in the first place?

Got an opinion on the final five flag designs? Hit the green button to share it with us or email stuffnation@stuff.co.nz.


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