Winston Peters has announced that NZ First are withdrawing from the cross-party committee set up to decide how the public will vote on a possible flag change.
At the whim of the Prime Minister New Zealand’s attention is now on changing the flag – this will cost us dearly, not only in money, but in taking our eye off serious social and economic challenges, says New Zealand First.
“There are many pressing problems to be addressed, with even the PM now acknowledging the scale of poverty,” says Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“The birth of a new flag is being sold as the people’s choice but it is being commandeered by National.
“That’s the reason New Zealand First will not be sitting on a so-called cross-party MPS Group.
“A flag is New Zealand’s national emblem and any move to change it must go along an impeccable path.
“Instead, National has invited political parties that barely have a splash of public support. United Future could only rally 0.22 per cent of the party vote in the General Election and ACT had to have a helping hand from National to push Epsom voters to get a sole MP into the House.
“This ‘representative’ Group will decide on flag options that will go out to the public to vote on.
This looks like he’s playing petty politics, but that’s par for the course for Peters.
The committee has been set up to organise two public referendums – that will determine whether there is public support or not, not Peters deciding which parties should or shouldn’t be involved.
His is probably playing to his elderly constituency, as he often does, but doing it this far out from the next election seems politically futile.
NZ Herald reports: NZ First pulls out of flag committee
New Zealand First has pulled out of a committee which will decide how the public votes on the national flag, saying it was an expensive exercise which took attention away from greater priorities.
Leader Winston Peters said this afternoon the flag referendum will “cost us dearly” and take the public’s eye off more pressing social and economic challenges.
“A change of flag might need to be considered but now is not the time. Poverty and housing are at crisis level, it’s no time for a government to be raising a distraction,” Mr Peters said.
His party had rejected the Government’s invitation to nominate an MP for a cross-party committee.
Claiming “more pressing social and economic challenges” should take precedent is ironic from Peters who seems to spend most of his time pursuing petty political attacks.
Mr Peters said the process of changing a national emblem needed to follow an “impeccable” process, but National had instead included political parties with very little support in the decision-making process, such as Act and United Future.
Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand First’s absence from the committee would not “inhibit the process in any way”.
And it shouldn’t. If Peters chooses to play in a different sandpit on his own that’s up to him. but his hissy fits shouldn’t prevent Parliament from continuing with doing it’s job.
David Farrar points out at Kiwiblog:
Peters has spent 20 years advocating referendums, yet when it is on an issue he personally disagrees with, he is against the public being able to have a say.
The public and the Government are quite capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time. Also poverty is not at crisis level. Peters is using that as an excuse to deny the public a say – because he disagrees.
Democratic principles and Peters are very loose partners.