Opinion split on longer term

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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