New Zealanders have said no to John Key’s flag project which divided the country and became a personal crusade, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.
“The flag referendum should have united New Zealand but the Prime Minister made it divisive. He has split the country and achieved nothing.
“At every stage of the process John Key screwed the scrum in favour of his flag. He made his desire for a fern flag known from the outset. Panel members were admittedly influenced by this and three of the four flag options featured ferns.
“John Key attended two fundraisers for the Flag Change campaign and his staff and MPs were heavily involved in campaigning.
“When New Zealanders said they wanted a straight yes/no vote in the first referendum, he failed to listen. He failed to treat the public with respect and put his personal agenda first.
“Time and again we heard voters say there were higher priorities for the $26 million the referendum cost taxpayers. This money could have funded a frontline melanoma drug like Keytruda, provided 5,500 more hospital operations, made 43,000 state houses warm and dry, or hired 250 more police officers.
“John Key refused to have a mature discussion about our future and who we are. He gave us a divisive corporate branding exercise,” Andrew Little says.