A new flag and a new head of state are both inevitable

John Key and the Cabinet have followed the New Zealand Herald's advice and given what he described as a "very thoughtful speech" about choosing a new flag after a January 30th editorial had argued that "if there is to be a change...it must be the product of a far more professional exercise and carefully considered decision". At the time we argued for a two stage referendum process similar to the electoral change referendums and similar to our own plans for a two stage referendum on the head of state. Our proposal is for the setting up of a constitutional commission outside parliament (with cross party support inside parliament) who would develop two alternative electoral options - one using direct election and one indirect election. Those two models would be put to voters in an indicator referendum that would measure whether we wanted a democratic head of state and whether we preferred direct or indirect election. From there detailed plans would be drawn up and a final binding referendum would be held. The two stage flag referendum process now being suggested by the Prime Minister is a big boost for the campaign for a New Zealand head of state because it will encourage all New Zealanders to think about what we stand for as a nation and about those final steps to full independence. The PM can try and talk down the republic issue as much as he likes but there is no escaping the obvious conclusion that having our own head of state is a far more meaningful and important change. New Zealand will not be independent from Britain until we have a New Zealander as head of state. Both are changes that have to happen.