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Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey deliver their Across The Ditch bulletin. This week: New Zealand Flag Debate Heats Up + Earthquake Wakes Provinces + Rugby World Cup Update – Recorded live on 24/09/15.

ITEM ONE: The Prime Minister has again relented to public opinion and is now backing a move to include the Red Peak flag design as a referendum option. The Government is pushing ahead to replace the New Zealand flag with one of four preferential designs put before a referendum. The Red Peak design was excluded from the final four, and it requires a law change for it to be placed before the public as a contender. The first referendum (held from November 20 to December 11 this year) will ask New Zealanders to rank the alternative flags. The winner will then run-off against the current flag in a second referendum held between March 3 to March 24 2016.. A New Zealand Herald online poll shows little support for the final four replacement flag options. But the Red Peak design continues to be the favoured option for 50% of those who voted. The current flag was supported by 28%. (at the time of writing this 3050 people had voted in the unscientific online poll). On Wednesday John Key said he wanted the Red Peak option included in the referendum. He applauded the Green Party for presenting legislation supporting its inclusion, and criticised Labour and New Zealand First for blocking the Green Party’s move and for playing politics on the issue – something the Prime Minister has also been criticised for. Key confirmed that National will pick up the Green Party bill to ensure he public is able to vote for Red Peak should they chose to. On Wednesday afternoon Key said: “In the end, I’m not wanting to be the one that stands in the way of people having some choice.” He said Parliament will go into urgency to force the way forward for the Red Peak Flag design. It’s classic John Key politics. He manoeuvres with ease around tricky political issues. Once public opinion is clear on an issue, he commits to a U-turn without blinking, without a moment’s hesitation, to get in beside the public and present as the saviour, the solution to a problem. ITEM TWO: East coast North Island communities in New Zealand were awoken by a rolling 5.1 earthquake this morning. No reports of damage. ITEM THREE: Rugby World Cup. Australia showed a few first game jitters but pulled off a decisive win against Fiji over night. Australia is showing form. The All Blacks looked rattled by Argentina in New Zealand’s opening game on Monday morning, but came through strong in the end to win 26 to 16. On Friday the All Blacks play Namibia with a fresh B-side captained by 23 year-old open-side flanker Sam Cane. Cane is positioned to be the likely replacement for All Blacks captain Richie McCaw once he retires and many are reading into this move that the All Blacks coaching-squad see him as a future All Black captain as well. Other interesting games coming up include: South Africa V Samoa on Sunday, and England V Wales also on Sunday. This game will give us a good idea of the true form of both England and Wales and how they stack up against Australia (the Wallabies are currently rated at number two in World Rugby behind the All Blacks).

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