New Zealand's acting prime minister — who is in charge while the PM is on maternity leave — is stirring up controversy and accusing Australia of copying his country’s national flag

Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesActing New Zealand Prime Minister Winston Peters
  • New Zealand’s acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has argued that Australia should change its national flag.
  • The two flags have long been confused due to their similarities and the countries’ geographical proximity.
  • In 2016, New Zealand failed to change its national flag following a referendum that cost the country $US17 million.

The acting prime minister of New Zealand has accused Australia of copying the country’s national flag and demanded it change the design.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters argued earlier this week that Australia should change the flag it has used for more than six decades because it too closely resembles New Zealand’s.

The New Zealand flag was adopted by the country on March 24, 1902. Australia’s flag was adopted 52 years later on April 14, 1954.

“We had a flag that we’ve had for a long time, copied by Australia, and they should actually change their flag and honour the fact that we got there first with this design, being decided by a Prime Minister and his legacy,” Peters, who is filling in for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while she is on maternity leave, told TVNZ.

Australian and New Zealand flagsAustralia New Zealand Army CorpsThe Australian flag (bottom) and the New Zealand flag (top) fly on the Sydney Harbour Bridge to commemorate Anzac Day

The two flags have long been confused due to their similarities and the countries’ geographical proximity.

While the flags both feature blue backgrounds, union jacks in the lefthand corner and the Southern Cross, they are not exactly the same.

New Zealand’s flag features four five-pointed red stars that represent the Southern Cross constellation.

Australia’s has five seven-pointed white stars. Six of the points represent the country’s six states, while the seventh represents the territories. A fifth, five-point star completes the Southern Cross constellation.

Both flags are based on the British Blue Ensign, a flag used by territories associated with the United Kingdom.

This isn’t the first time Peters has argued for Australia to change its national flag.

In 2016, when New Zealand held a referendum on redesigning the country’s flag, Peters argued that it was Australia that needed a new design.

The failed referendum cost New Zealand $US17 million, The Washington Post reported.

Relations between the two countries have been strained recently over Australia’s decision to deport New Zealanders who are convicted of crimes.

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