Prime Minister John Key says he will not support a Labour bill to include Red Peak as a shortlisted flag because of the extra condition that the first referendum asks whether New Zealanders want a change.
Mr Little and Mr Key have been trying to stare each other down over Red Peak since Mr Key said on Monday he would add it to the shortlist if Labour supported the law change needed to make that happen and started backing the process of the referendums.
Mr Little has maintained that process was flawed and offered to support including Red Peak but only if the first referendum asked the question of change.
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Both are still sticking to their guns, although Mr Little has now offered to meet with Mr Key over it. Mr Little denied Labour had effectively cobbled the chances of Red Peak being added by including a condition Mr Key was never to accept.
"This has been entirely controlled by the Prime Minister and it is the Prime Minister who has now woken up to a shift in public opinion. He wants help because of the situation he's found himself in. He's in that situation because he misread public sentiment." He said he was happy to help out, but the only way to add integrity to the process was to ask the question of change in the first referendum. "If he puts that in he'll get my 100 per cent support." He believed that unless that happened, New Zealanders were more likely to vote against change.
Mr Key rejected Labour's condition for that question to be asked first and said Labour was simply playing politics. He said the order of the referendum questions was the result of advice from officials and the work of a cross-party group of MPs. "How can you have a yes/no vote when people don't know what they would be voting for?" He said polls that had probed into the topic showed a high proportion of New Zealanders would vote depending on whether they liked the alternative flag. A recent Herald DigiPoll showed while 23 per cent supported change in principle, a further 24 per cent said it would depend what the proposed new flag was. Fifty three per cent were opposed to change in principle.
Mr Little said Mr Key could simply add Red Peak without going to the vote if he pulled one of the other designs from the shortlist. However, Mr Key said he would not make a unilateral decision to include Red Peak because he would be criticised.