At Waitangi today John Key floated the idea of a four year term. It’s obviously not new but it gave media the opportunity to check it out with other parties in attendance.
The Prime Minister is using his spotlight at Waitangi to push the idea of a fixed four-year term for the Government, and he’s got support from his political opponents.
The crowds at Waitangi are a good sounding board for politicians, so John Key’s using the event to push the boat out on this pet project of his – extending the Government’s reign to four years, with a fixed date.
“I think it makes a lot more sense to know when the date is and it makes a lot more sense to have it for four years,” he says.
But Mr Key would need either 75 percent support from MPs or the majority in a referendum.
Support from MPs would be easiest.
Opposition leader David Shearer says he agrees with the idea.
“In many ways it’s a very short period of time,” he says. “It’s too long in opposition I have to say!”
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples seems in favour.
“That’s probably a good idea too. You just seem to get started and bang, it’s election time,” he says.
And Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says she thinks the public would support the move.
“Most of the public agree it’s better for governments to have more time to implement policy rather than going from election to election.”
I don’t think Turei is correct on public agreement unless she knows something that’s not public knowledge. In 1990 69% opted to stick with three years.
Peter Dunne is definitely in favour, I asked him and he replied:
Yes, I do and the fixed Election Day
If their parties followed their lead that’s well over 75% (National plus Labour would be enough).
3News also asked Hone Harawira:
However Mana leader Hone Harawira isn’t convinced.
“As long as I’m not in Government I think it’s a ratshit idea,” he says.
That just leaves Winston and NZ First, but the numbers look favourable for four years.
I also agree, three years seems too short for a Government. The first year is generally settling in and getting up to speed on policies and portfolios, and gathering information. Year two is cram time for implementing as much as possible. And year three is dominated by the election. A second middle year would make a big difference.
A common preference amongst the public is that the shorter the better in case the don’t like who is in Government. But it’s rare to have a one term government.
It can be presumed that a longer term would increase the chance of being rejected at the first re-election attempt, so four years would be shorter than six (two terms).
And it would be much harder to stay for a third term, so eight years is shorter than nine.
How likely and how soon? From NZ Herald’s Leaders support four year term:
The review began in 2010 and is being led by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples who have appointed an advisory panel to consider it. However, there is no report date, and Mr English told iwi leaders at Waitangi that “it will take as long as it takes”.
He said it would be some time before any recommendations were made – and even then the Government might not act on them if it could not secure widespread agreement.
Don’t hold your breath.