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Four-year term push gathers support

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Some Liberal MPs expect voters to back fixed four-year federal parliamentary terms after Labor leader Bill Shorten resurrected the idea.

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The Opposition Leader believes the change – already in place in most states and territories – will allow governments to be more daring and determined because they’re not focused on the next election.

The prime minister phoned Shorten after he floated the proposal during a television interview on Sunday to discuss the idea.

Turnbull indicated he was prepared to discuss the suggestion.

Cabinet minister Steve Ciobo expects the public to be broadly supportive, but acknowledges some issues would have to be considered more closely.

“Let’s just let the community have a think about it, have a chat about it if they’d like to and if there’s opportunity for us to look at it so be it,” he told Sky News.

Liberal colleague David Coleman earlier this year flagged a private member’s bill to establish fixed four-year terms.

He hopes a referendum can be held at the next federal election.

“It would mean more certainty for business in terms of business investment,” he told ABC radio.

Frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer is open to the discussion but warned there were two sides to the argument.

“If you have fixed terms you can either entrench good governments or bad governments,” she told ABC radio.

Nowadays the prime minister has the power to decide when an election will be, and the average term in between has been about two-and-a-half years.

Treasurer Scott Morrison was also sceptical, insisting it’s not a top priority for the Coalition.

“I don’t think Bill Shorten should be given three years let alone four,” he said.

One hurdle has been the assumption moving to four-year terms would be matched with a corresponding change to elect senators for eight years, but Shorten said that shouldn’t be a “deal-killer”.

Shorten told ABC TV on Sunday that changing to a fixed four-year term would bring the nation the certainty and longer-term policy making it desperately needs.

“Governments can be more daring and more determined if they’re not constantly thinking about the next election,”  he said.

Such a change would require a referendum as the three-year term is set out in the constitution.

The prime minister of the day has the power to decide when an election is held, and the average term has been about two-and-a-half years.

One hurdle has been the assumption moving to four-year terms would be matched with a corresponding change to elect senators for eight years when at the moment they are chosen for six, but Shorten said that shouldn’t be a “deal-killer”.

Earlier in the year, Liberal backbencher David Coleman flagged a private member’s bill to bring in fixed four-year terms, also saying it would allow longer-term planning and deliver more certainty for business investors.

– AAP

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