Opinion split on longer term

March 25th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Just over half of those asked in a Herald-DigiPoll survey said they believed the three-year term should stay, while 48 per cent believed it should increase to four years.

That’s a promising response showing NZers are open to persuasion on this issue.

Mr Key has said any such change would be made only if there was sufficient public support, likely to be determined through a referendum.

I think there should be a binding referendum in 2014 on this issue. I would tie two things in as part of it:

  • Have a fixed date for elections, removing the PM’s ability to set an early date for tactical reasons. Only have an early election is a Government loses a confidence vote.
  • Don’t have the change in term come in until 2020 – ie make absolutely clear the next two terms will remain at three years. This means people won’t think it is about the current Government trying to get a longer term

David Farrar, a National-aligned blogger, supported a move to four years, saying three years was not enough time in which to assess whether new policies were working. He expected it would result in more one-term Governments – something that has happened only twice so far in New Zealand’s political history.

“People do feel three years is not long enough to judge. With a four-year term, more Governments might get chucked out after one term because people would say, ‘It’s been four years, we should have seen some impact.”‘

Three years is pretty much the shortest term in the world.

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41 Responses to “Opinion split on longer term”

  1. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    More poll dancing…who woulda thunk!

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  2. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    That’s a promising response showing NZers are open to persuasion on this issue.

    I’m open to persuasion but I’ve yet to see any evidence that 4 is better than 3. Saying that 3 years is “pretty much the shortest term in the world” is irrelevant. Is there clear and compelling evidence that a 4 year term leads to stronger economies, a better standard of living, a longer and more prosperous life, higher wages, lower prices, greater productivity, more jobs, optimal social policies, etc?

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  3. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    David Farrar, a National-aligned blogger, supported a move to four years, saying three years was not enough time in which to assess whether new policies were working.

    A red herring. Governments seldom get turfed out after 3 years. They typically do 6 at least.

    [DPF: That is my point. With a longer term, I believe you would see more Governments get turfed out after one term]

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  4. Pete George (23,326 comments) says:

    “Three years is pretty much the shortest term in the world.”

    Full length term.

    I hope I don’t shock too many people, I’m sitting on the fence on this one. I can see some possible benefits from having a four year term but I don’t see a compelling reason to change.

    Under a three year term politicians could just do what’s best for the country every year instead of getting too clever trying to work to the electoral cycle.

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  5. Graeme Edgeler (3,276 comments) says:

    A red herring. Governments seldom get turfed out after 3 years. They typically do 6 at least.

    There has been one two-term government in the history of New Zealand, since our modern party structure was adopted.

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,276 comments) says:

    Is there clear and compelling evidence that a 4 year term leads to stronger economies, a better standard of living, a longer and more prosperous life, higher wages, lower prices, greater productivity, more jobs, optimal social policies, etc?

    That’s my major issue as well. Are we being asked to give up something with the promise of attaining something that doesn’t exist?

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  7. kowtow (7,943 comments) says:

    So now Key is talking about sufficient public support through a referendum.

    What a novel idea.

    Too bad we plebs aren’t given more of a say on how the country is run and on important social policy changes more often.It wouldn’t be hard.

    But then the Establishment Elite don’t really like sharing power with the rest of us do they?

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  8. Pete George (23,326 comments) says:

    It’s wort quoting some other blogger who was mentioned in the article:

    Electoral law specialist Graeme Edgeler said he was yet to be convinced that a shift to a four-year term was needed or desirable. He said New Zealand’s system lacked the checks on governments that other countries had, such as an Upper House, an entrenched Bill of Rights, or strong state governments.

    “We get a Government and they can do pretty much what they like for three years. We currently have control over politicians every three years. If we go to four, that’s less democracy.”

    He did not agree with the argument that three years was not enough time to bed in significant reforms, saying it had not stopped previous reforms ranging from income tax laws to ACC.

    Starting point should be don’t change the term unless there is a likelihood of significant benefit.

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  9. Rowan (2,040 comments) says:

    I would say get rid of the nats but no one else to really challenge them, probably have to say (reluctantly) best of a bad lot. Definitely would not be extending there term to 4 years though.

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  10. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    It’s been 5 years and these chumps are still blaming Labour.

    Where’s the 170 000 jobs promised, where’s the trickle down from the tax switch?…The brighter future still looks to be in Oz.

    Giving this lot 4 years would probably be taken as a mandate to sell the whole country, as is where is to their banker mates…oh hang on!

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  11. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    There has been one two-term government in the history of New Zealand, since our modern party structure was adopted.

    Graeme, I said Governments typically do 6 years at least. The last 3 year government was 1972-75. A 3 year term has been the exception.

    National 1975-84
    Labour 1984-90
    National 1990-99
    Labour 1999-2008
    National 2008 – 2014?

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  12. s.russell (1,580 comments) says:

    I could wish that the prospect of a longer term might make voters take elections more seriously and think a little harder about the choice they make and what its consequences would likely be. Alas, I’m not sure that it would have this effect.

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  13. dime (9,663 comments) says:

    I think im with GE on this.

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  14. David Garrett (6,773 comments) says:

    Well my two cents…My instinct is “three years is too short”…Under our present system, governments typically get about 18 months to do anything really courageous, and then they have to start worrying about the next election. But that’s just a gut reaction; I also would like to see some data on positive/negative outcomes for four year terms as opposed to three. It may be there is no real difference, in which case there would seem to be little reason to disturb the status quo.

    Some grizzled poli once said something like ” three years is too short for a really good government, but a bloody long time for a bad one”.

    For me this is a bit like global warming – there are a lot of things more pressing to worry about.

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  15. Cunningham (828 comments) says:

    Black with a Vengeance (998) do you hohestly think Labour would do anywhere near as good? Unless they were prepared to remove alot of the massive spending they put in place we would all be compltely fucked. Forecasts had us up shit creek if nothing was done. What do you think Labour and the communists would have done to get us in a better situation? Bear in mind the GFC and Chch so money limited. Go on tell us!!

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  16. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    “Three years is pretty much the shortest term in the world.”

    That’s true. But how many other fully sovereign legislatures don’t have a co-equal or revising second chamber? My view is that the House of Representatives is simply too powerful for a four year term. It both controls the executive branch and is not checked by an anti-majoritarian upper chamber which can delay sweeping reforms by the government.

    Accordingly, the term needs to be three years so that the House is at least checked by frequent elections.

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  17. Lucia Maria (2,239 comments) says:

    The only way I’d be open to persuasion is for government to increase it’s power this way is if it were balanced out between government and the voters. Say, with a voter veto on all conscience issues so that if parties end up supporting legislation they never campaigned on, the voters would be able to toss it out. In fact, maybe expand that voter veto to all policies that were never campaigned on.

    I would never support giving the government more power for nothing.

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  18. PTM (45 comments) says:

    “It’s been 5 years and these chumps are still blaming Labour.”

    And after 8 years, Labour were still blaming National. They all play the same game and expect us to take it seriously.
    I am not sure we could survive 4 years of a Greens, Labour, Mana, NZ First coalition. The impact of the deals they would have to do to coexist would take decades to repair.
    It is bad enough that the current government hesitate to undo the fiscal impact of the policies of the last Labour led government.

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  19. tvb (4,253 comments) says:

    I think we should stick with the 3 year term. The first 3 years you implement your promises and prepare the ground for more complex matters. That would take the best part of 3 years anyway. Then at the begining of the 2nd term you implement the work that was done in the first term. I just think that extra year for the first term is of little value. You are not going to do much in that 4th year. But in the second term I guess 4 years is a good stretch to get into place the unpopular stuff. I agree there should be a fixed terms for parliament. But in MMP there is a possibility for a Government to be defeated on the floor of Parliament and a new one reconstituted within the same Parliament.

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  20. berend (1,673 comments) says:

    Why would we need to chuck out a government? It doesn’t matter if you pick National, they simply continue with Labour’s policies.

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  21. RRM (9,661 comments) says:

    What Cato said.

    I am a leftie but when I look at NZ Labour Party as they are now, the idea of those people holding the purse strings frightens me. I think if we are going to have people in power for longer terms, then we need to look at how the available “talent” is spread and whether the structure they work within is satisfactory to prevent really bad governance.

    A hundred and twenty bums on seats, all sitting around in one house that approves and enacts whatever programme slightly more than half of them want seems wasteful to me. MMP in itself seems to dilute the absolute power a bit, but that is at the whim of fate and an election could still conceivably deliver someone with a total majority to have their way with.

    While I deplore the level of corruption in the United States system (and the level of partizan hatred in the rhetoric there) some of their structure does seem to have a certain elegance to the way the different checks and balances work.

    If it is of any help we already have the upper house, with furniture and carpet on the floor, all ready to be used…?

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  22. Pete George (23,326 comments) says:

    I would never support giving the government more power for nothing.

    Perhaps then we should ask what we would get in exchange for extending the term.

    A decent system for debate and opinion feedback that is not designed or controlled by politicians?

    Referenda take too long and are to expensive for most policies and issues. A much faster and more reactive people’s lobby system would fill the gap in our democratic system.

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  23. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    Well if we’re gonna play that game Cunningham. Imagine how much more fucked the country would be if English had been PM through the Clark years instead.

    Just what is it exactly do you think this govt has done in the past 5 years worth cheering about?

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  24. Lucia Maria (2,239 comments) says:

    Pete,

    I don’t think they want to give us anything. My impression is that they are just hoping the voters will fall for this whole of concept of a four year term being a “good idea” and just let them at it. So, yes, we do need to ask them what they will give in return.

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  25. s.russell (1,580 comments) says:

    “It’s been 5 years and these chumps are still blaming Labour.”

    Precisely. And Labour could fairly blame National for many things for just as long.

    Because it takes a lot of time these days to cook up many of the most significant reforms. And the things you do have very long term consequences.

    Even if you have some ideas in Opposition, working out exactly what to do in a complex area of law such as the RMA can take years of commissions and studies white papers and green papers, and consultations with expert groups and stakeholders. You then need to allow 6 months for officials to draw up legislation, six months at least to get it through Parliament, another 6 months to set up for implementation, and then years for the effects to become apparent. And Governements are usually busy doing lots of things. So you may have to wait a while simply to find room in the political and legislative agenda.

    A longer term would open wider the political window of opportunity to undertake significant reforms, and for their effect to be judged before voters judge the politicians on it.

    On balance, a longer term is good if you think Govts need to be more radical. Bad if you want Govt (of whatever stripe) to more cautious.

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  26. Cunningham (828 comments) says:

    Black with a Vengeance (999) you can do better then that! I asked you a question. If you think Labour and the Green communists would do so much better then answer it and tell us how they would have done better. Come on I genuinely want to know.

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  27. Andrew (82 comments) says:

    Interesting. This poll suggested 56% were supportive of a four year term: http://www.colmarbrunton.co.nz/images/ONE_News_Colmar_Brunton_Poll_report_9-13_Feb_2013.pdf

    Does anyone know the wording of the Digipoll question? I’ve looked briefly, but I can’t find it.

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  28. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    Not speaking on the lefts behalf Cunningham but…:)

    Lower the threshold for working for families and means test super annuation.

    Kept the high tax rate for the fatcats to ensure the take balanced the books without having to sell off state assets.

    Given tax breaks to small companies and incetivise startups through low interest loans.

    And maybe if they have the balls, institute a capital gains and financial transaction tax

    Plus put money and jobs into uprading rail not roads of nationals indifference.

    Now your turn…what’s got you hard for Key in the last five years?

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  29. Chuck Bird (4,765 comments) says:

    My view is the same as many on this blog. I will lobby against it if there is nothing given in return. I would be more than happy with 4 year term if there was a voters veto on conscious issues.

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  30. Cunningham (828 comments) says:

    Hahaha BWAV I started to think about it but actually my list is pretty much the opposite of yours (go figure!). I think National could do more but I understand they can’t please everybody. Overall I am most happy that they are reducing spending and trying ti improve efficiency as under Labour government spending exploded. Throwing money at an issue doesn’t solve it which is something the left do not understand. Look at WFF, Kiwirail and int free loans. Completely reckless policy released on the hoof purely to win an election rather then any thought or debate about whether it is for the good of NZ. Just look at the success National has got with trying to get the money back from int free loans. Labour were too lazy to even bother. That is what I most dislike about the left, their complete disrespect towards the taxpayer.

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  31. Fentex (909 comments) says:

    With a longer term, I believe you would see more Governments get turfed out after one term

    Surely an argument for three year terms then if coupled with the logic that more time is needed to see the results of policies – because by this logic three year terms usually lead to longer periods in government.

    So how can someone believe this, and support longer terms on any logic that they give government more time to achieve anything?

    As power corrupts it must be minimised, and there’s nothing wrong with holding politicians as accountable as possible as often as possible.

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  32. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    Throwing money at the issue doesn’t solve it….tell that to General Rumblefuck Joyce about Novopay.

    Nothing wrong with WFF if it only worked for the working poor. It’s when it gets gamed by the well to do ,as with Super, that it becomes a burden.

    The thing with the Clark years was they, for whatever reason, were boom years and Cullen managed them a fuck sight better than English would have and everyone knows it.

    I’m all for reduced spending and efficiency but sacking people to hire consultants at twice the rate is taking the piss.

    What else you got you want to lead a rousing blue cheer about?

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  33. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    Oh yeah and just look at the bailout National had to make over the SCF guarantee scam.

    Not to mention the possibility of having to cash up Solid Energy again by gouging them for dividends they couldnt afford and sending them to the wall for loans.

    Kinda pales the gains made by recouping student loans into insignificance eh?

    And then there’s all the lies and broken promises…

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  34. ChardonnayGuy (1,184 comments) says:

    Increased duration parliamentary terms have been put to the voters twice before, both involving four year terms- in September 1967 and October 1990, with 69.7 and 85.3% turn outs respectively. In both cases, around seventy percent of the contemporary electorate (1967: 68.1%)/(1990: 69.3%) rejected the move (as cruel and unusual punishment, perhaps) :)

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  35. Cunningham (828 comments) says:

    BWAV “And then there’s all the lies and broken promises…” Labour are going into next years election with a policy of “we may buy back the shares (at the rate people bought them so basically seizing them) but we won’t tell you until after the election”. That’s a fucking disgrace! Whether you agree with Assets sales or not National made it extremely clear what they were doing. Lets also not forget their hypocrisy in this subject where they approved the sale of Wellingtons electricity grid to foreigners yet now harp on and on about foreign investment.

    Cullen oversaw very high interest rates, high inflation (power prices rose over 70% I believe under them even though govt owned, food also rose substantially), a huge housing bubble and helped dream up schemes like WFF so close to an election that they were nothing but bribe quickly whipped up to win the election. Not to mention Kiwirail which was a hugely reckless waste of tax payer money and nothing more then a political stunt we are all paying for now. Why didn’t they buy the fucking thing back earlier when they could have got it for much cheaper if they wanted it so badly??

    They were boom years because the private sector got into massive debt not because of anything Labour did. In fact if we continued down the path they had set we would be marching in the streets just like the Greeks. Yes National has made mistakes but the way Labour blew money in a period of huge potential is unforgivable.

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  36. Black with a Vengeance (1,701 comments) says:

    And yet still no argument on how much worse it would have been under English, Cunningham?

    WFF sought to redistribute wealth to the most needy. English, as has been shown, would have done massive backroom deals benefitting his bankster and farming mates while rorting as many perks out of the system as he could get away with.

    Kiwirail ,given the investment, could be one of our greatest assets. But of course National are ideologically opposed to do anything that might vindicate Cullen. And let’s not forget there’d be no Kiwibank either under English.

    The point is, in blind hatred of Labour, the right are giving Key carte blanche to reek mayhem on the national debt while a compliant media looks the other way.

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  37. pq (728 comments) says:

    quote

    Mr Key has said any such change would be made only if there was sufficient public support, likely to be determined through a referendum

    that is we will go with referendums that support our position, but ignore peoples referenda on other,

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  38. pq (728 comments) says:

    quote

    Mr Key has said any such change would be made only if there was sufficient public support, likely to be determined through a referendum

    that is we will go with referenda that support our position, but ignore peoples referenda on other,

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  39. Rodders (1,790 comments) says:

    pq, would you support a referendum on whether NZ First should be required to repay $158,000 to the consolidated fund (not to some anonymous charity?)

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  40. ChardonnayGuy (1,184 comments) says:

    I’m agnostic about term duration, but I’ll head off to Index New Zealand and see whether there are any articles therein on the two aforementioned earlier failed referenda on term duration and report back.

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  41. ChardonnayGuy (1,184 comments) says:

    Scrutinising Index New Zealand produced the following pieces of interest- albeit only one from New Zealand political science or historical journals, oddly enough.

    1.”Reflecting on 150 years : 1967 ”

    Abstract:

    Looks at news and events as they were recorded by the newspaper in 1967. Reports on the grim task of rescuers to retrieve the bodies of 19 men killed in an underground explosion in the Strongman State coalmine (20 Jan), the death of the St Kilda Surf Life-Saving Club captain in a shark attack (10 Mar), and the verdict of voters in referenda to support 10 o’clock closing of hotel bars and reject four-year parliamentary terms (25 Sep). Includes a photograph of the front cover of the 20 Jan 1967 edition, depicting coverage of the Strongman mine explosion.

    Source: Otago Daily Times, 23 Sep 2011; p.22; issn:0114-426X

    2.”The silence of politicians; A five-year term; Second chamber advocates please note”

    Abstract:
    Discusses the caution shown by politicians, the advantages of a longer Parliamentary term, the dangers of a Second Chamber.

    Source: Comment : a New Zealand Quarterly Review, Sum 1960; n.2:p.5; issn:0010-2555

    3. “Two futures : a reverie on constitutional review ”
    By: David Round

    Abstract:
    Discusses government’s announcement of a wide-ranging review of NZ’s constitutional arrangements and the manner in which the review would take. Suggests that the review would fall into three general categories, that being: general parliamentary matters covering size of Parliament, the length of the Parliamentary term, the size and number of electorates and electoral integrity legislation, Māori issues covering representation including the Māori electoral option, electoral participation and possible reserved Māori seats in Parliament and local government, and the role of the Treaty of Waitangi in our constitutional arrangements, and a possible written constitution of Bill of Rights issues. Covers a lengthy discussion over the place of the Treaty in our law, constitution, and national life.

    Source: Otago law review, 2011; v.12 n.3:p.525-556; issn:0078-6918

    4.Economy : Three years or four years?
    By: Easton, Brian

    Abstract:
    Considers whether a four year electoral term would mean better financial management..

    Source: Listener, 22 Aug 1987; v.117 n.2479:p.80; issn:0110-5787

    5.

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