Flag change process goes a step further
Another rowdy debate in Parliament has marked a further step for the Bill that allows the flag referendum process to take place.
Opposition parties opposed to the $17 million exercise again said it was a waste of money.
"People aren't taking it seriously, they've got other priorities and they're worried about unemployment and the economy," said Labour leader Andrew Little.
"They don't want a change right now, when the country can't afford it."
Government MPs said $17 million was a small price to pay for democracy, and some said they were hoping the result would be a new flag.
"I don't want us to be constantly confused with Australia," said Senior Whip Tim Macindoe.
"And I'm appalled by the blatant dishonesty of the Labour Party."
Mr Macindoe said that in 2014 Labour's election policy was to review the design of the flag "with full public consultation and involvement".
He quoted Mr Little as saying at the time that a referendum would be "a suitable way to deal with an issue which could be polarising".
Mr Macindoe said Labour was opposing the process for purely political reasons.
"The only reason they don't support it is because we're doing it."
The Bill passed its second reading 63-58 last night.
It still has to pass its committee and third reading stages before becoming law.