Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has doubled down on his claims Australia copied our flag – and even suggested a new design they can adopt: A big kangaroo.

"In 1901 we adopt our flag. 1954 they adopt a flag almost identical to ours. The things speak for themselves. I'm not going to make a big point," Peters said in an interview on Newshub Nation today.

"I think we even have the solution for them, if you like. Probably a big kangaroo, like the maple leaf in Canada.

"When you see us at the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Games … it is very confusing to see which flag is which."

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Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is calling copy-cat. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is calling copy-cat. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell

Peters' suggestion Australia had copied New Zealand's flag made international headlines this week, with CNN and others picking up the story.

New Zealand's flag was adopted in 1902 and Australia's current flag was officially recognised in 1954. Various versions of the Australian flag have been used since 1901.

Peters and New Zealand First were strongly opposed to changing the flag in the lead-up to the 2016 flag referendum.

His copy-cat claim comes amidst growing tension between New Zealand and Australia over issues including the deportation of New Zealand citizens from Australia.

Today he told Newshub Nation "plain talking" and "frank dialogue" was important. The trans-Tasman relationship was "great", but could be "so much better".

"And my job is to emphasise to the Australian people and the state government and their central government, that they have never needed New Zealand like they do now."

Last week, Peters and Justice Minister Andrew Little appeared on the ABC's Foreign Correspondent programme critical of Australia's deportation policies, saying there appeared to be a "venal, political strain" to them and "certainly not consistent with any humanitarian ideals that I thought both countries once shared".

More than a thousand New Zealanders have had their visas cancelled in Australia since stricter deportation laws were introduced four years ago.

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In response, Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Little might want to "reflect a little more" on the trans-Tasman relationship.

"New Zealand don't contribute really anything to the defence effort that we've got where we're trying to surveil boats that might be on their way to New Zealand. So I hope that Andrew Little reflects a little more on the relationship between Australia and New Zealand where we do a lot of the heavy lifting. We intercept boats which stop them from making their way to New Zealand.

"There's a lot to this relationship and I was really disappointed in Mr Little's comments during the week. I hope that he doesn't repeat them."

Little then made much the same comments to New Zealand media.