Hot Topic Reporting season
Hot Topic Reporting season
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Support continues to flag for referendum options – UMR poll

PM needs to prepare himself for the failure of his pet legacy project.

Nick Grant
Tue, 20 Oct 2015

It’s debatable whether the flag referendum is still even a thing after leading vexillologist and occasional pop star Justin Bieber recently appealed to the prime minister to keep the current one with a typically incisive analysis of, “Are you guys not confident in your flag? It looks fine to me.”

Assuming it is, however, it appears John Key needs to begin preparing himself emotionally for his pet legacy project of changing New Zealand’s ensign failing at the final hurdle.

That’s because survey results released yesterday by UMR (see raw data below) show that even though Kyle Lockwood’s red and blue fern marginally edges out Kyle Lockwood’s blue and black fern as first preference, none of the proposed designs seriously challenge the current flag in a head-to-head choice.

The survey of 1000 eligible voters, which has margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%, indicates the koru design would be the first to be eliminated under the referendum’s single transferable vote system, with the black and white fern the second to go, and final support for the remaining three as follows:

  • Red and blue fern 39.1%
  • Blue and black fern 37.7%
  • Red Peak 23.2%

None of the designs fare well against the incumbent flag, however: the red and blue fern garners just 36% versus 64% for the current design; the blue and black fern 35%/65%; and Red Peak 18%/82%.

The latest UMR poll follows one earlier this month that indicated 28% of eligible voters (the equivalent of 880,000 Kiwis) believe a plain silver fern on a black background – a design strongly identified with the All Blacks and initially Mr Key’s preference – should also be added to the ballot.

Although Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who has official responsibility for the flag referendum, told NBR there was no chance of another design being added to the referendum at this point, an All Blacks representative told NBR off the record his organisation had never objected to a silver fern on a black background being included, just the All Blacks’ copyrighted take on that motif.

One such design, which failed to be selected by the flag consideration panel, is still being promoted as a possible option by Grant McLachlan.

The former parliamentary researcher and National Party campaign director says his design (pictured below) is “based on the 1888 original silver fern design by Thomas Ellison, vexillologically and botanically correct. It is also so simple that a three year old can draw and you won’t have problems with the NZRU or other organisations.”

Despite his design not making the cut, Mr McLachlan has continued to run an energetic campaign, including casting aspersions on the validity of the petition that helped get Red Peak included on the ballot by revealing he’d personally signed it under the names of Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner and Paul Henry and NZ First leader Winston Peters.

RAW DATA: UMR Flag referendum poll (PDF here)

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Nick Grant
Tue, 20 Oct 2015
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Support continues to flag for referendum options – UMR poll