PM stands by flag referendum
John Key says the fact that more than 10,000 flag designs have been submitted proves there's real interest in the referendum that will decide whether there'll be a change.
The Prime Minister was asked in Parliament on Tuesday whether he stood by his statement that "I'd bet my bottom dollars that there will be considerable debate and discussion about whether the flag should change".
Mr Key thinks his bottom dollar is safe.
"I made that comment when the flag consideration project had received about 2300 different flag designs," he said.
"I'm delighted that at the last count the panel had received 10,291 flag designs."
Green Party co-leader James Shaw asked Mr Key whether he accepted that only 25 percent of New Zealanders wanted to change the flag.
"I think we are ultimately going to have to wait until that final referendum in early 2016 to see whether New Zealanders want to change the flag or not," Mr Key said.
"I hope they do, because I believe passionately that a new flag can be used as part of a way of showing how proud we are of our country and how we unify a multicultural society."
WHERE TO FROM HERE FOR THE FLAG?
* July 16 was the final deadline for flag designs to be submitted
* July 17 - mid-August panel will review designs
* Mid-August: Announcement of preliminary list of about 50-75 flag designs
* Mid-August - mid-September: Final design review to determine the four alternative flag designs to be included in the first referendum
* Late 2015: First referendum will be held. Voters will choose their preferred alternative flag design
* April 2016: Second flag referendum, a run-off between the current flag and the top-ranked alternative.