New Zealand parliament passes law to change flag

Wellington, Aug 13 (IANS) The New Zealand Parliament on Thursday passed a law that will enable a referendum to be held on changing the nation’s flag, a media report said.

The first part of the referendum is expected to be held later this year, when voters will pick their favourite of four proposed flag designs which will be announced by mid-September, Radio New Zealand reported.

The bill was passed by 63 votes to 59 with the support of the National Party, United Future, ACT New Zealand and the Maori Party.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said it was over to the public to choose an alternative flag and decide whether it should replace the current one.

“The passing of the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, with the support of four parliamentary parties, will secure New Zealanders their first opportunity ever to vote on the flag that best represents them and our country,” English said.

The first postal referendum is planned to take place between November 20 and December 11 where voters will rank four alternative designs.

The most-preferred design from that first referendum will then go to a second binding referendum in March 2016, where voters will choose between the status quo and the most preferred alternative flag.

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