Labour: Key 'playing games' with flag referendum

  • 21/09/2015
Labour Party leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)
Labour Party leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)

Labour leader Andrew Little is grinning after the latest 3 News/Reid Research poll shows more than two-thirds of voters don't want the flag changed.

Mr Little wants Prime Minister John Key's referendum process changed, and he believes the public do as well.

"I see a Prime Minister who frankly is just playing games and has mishandled this from the outset," says Mr Little.

He says the poll indicates there's no public confidence in the process.

"He's completely botched this whole process, and it's got to where it is now – a total lack of public confidence in the whole flag referendum process."

Mr Key's own loyalists don't support his pet project to change the nation's flag.

The 3 News/Reid Research poll shows just 37 percent of National voters do want a change, while 56 percent don't.

But the Prime Minister is not worried.

"I never thought it would be anything different than a really tough slog," says Mr Key. "That's because inertia is a big factor. There's a lot of history there. But the merits and arguments for changing are overwhelming."

He says most audiences he talks to want change or are neutral.

"They're either neutral, at 50 percent, or massively in favour of change. We don't see the sort of numbers that you see there, but I recognise that for a lot of people they haven't thought through all of the merits and arguments yet."

He says inertia will soon start to build behind the change movement.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the process was always a big risk for the Prime Minister.

"People are not satisfied with where we've gotten to," says Mr Shaw. "I think it's been one of those projects where the Prime Minister has invested a lot of his personal stock, and it's at risk of really coming off the rails."

He says the poll results should be writing on the wall for Mr Key.

"He's going to try and say that he's relaxed about the outcome," says Mr Shaw. "But he's invested a huge amount of his personal capital in this, and it looks like it's really going to go to bits."

Only 15 percent of Green Party voters agree the flag needs changing.

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