Flag change progress near ANZAC centenary disrespectful - RSA

The Royal New Zealand RSA has slammed Government for timing the first stage of an proposal to change New Zealand's flag close to the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.

A parliamentary committee aimed at shepherding a referendum on the proposed flag change is set to meet in the coming weeks.

RSA National President BJ Clark says holding the meeting a few weeks out from ANZAC centenary commemorations on April 25 is disrespectful.

"A hundred years ago our forces served and sacrificed under the same flag that flies today. It is inappropriate that this debate occurs as we commemorate the centenary of the First World War," he says.

"For many who've served, our current flag is symbolic of the sacred oath they made to protect the peace and security of New Zealand. Our men and women have made terrible personal sacrifices and we honour their courage and commitment every time the current New Zealand flag is flown."

An appointed committee, worth $26 million, will choose four alternative flag designs for New Zealanders to vote on in a referendum which will happen before 2017.

Mr Clark says he can't understand the reasons for introducing a new flag when there haven't been any calls for one.

"Where are the people marching on parliament wanting a change? They don't exist because we've never been told why change is necessary," he says.

The RSA is preparing to fight the government to retain New Zealand's existing flag.

"It's our responsibility to lead the charge both on behalf of the RSA and also the hundreds of Kiwis who've contacted us to say they don't want the flag to be changed and do not understand why it has become such a priority," says Mr Clark.

Source: Breakfast