I have been a very long standing advocate for term limits for MPs. In fact as a Young National in the early 1990s I gained a fair bit of media attention for my remit proposing a maximum of six terms for MPs. The Herald pointed out the only two National MPs it would have impacted are then PM Jim Bolger and Bill Birch!
Rodney Hide writes in NBR:
Mr Goff joined the Labour Party at 16 and became an MP in 1981. He has been a politician his entire life. The key to his political survival is his excessive caution and extreme flexibility.
Mr Goff has never made a do-or-die stand and, indeed, has travelled the entire political spectrum and back again. He has been against free trade, for free trade and now he’s against again.
Actually he is back in favour again it seems.
We need the simple rule that an MP can only serve a maximum of four terms. That one change would transform politics. We would have citizen politicians again.
They would represent us rather than themselves.
Politicians would have to have careers outside of politics. The bulk of their experience would be outside of politics rather than politics itself.
I think four is a bit short with three year terms. But if we had four year terms, then four four year terms would be about right – 16 years. More than enough time to make a contribution and move on.
With term limits all that would change. One quarter of the Parliament would be retired every election. There would be a proper churn. Political candidates could have a great career in business, in sport, the arts, in health, in life and then stand.
They could stand in their mid-50s, have a good chance of making it in, have a good chance of becoming a minister and even a chance of being prime minister. They would be retired in their 60s.
Everyday people could stand for high office. Mums with their children now off their hands. Working people who know about life. We could elect business leaders and sporting heroes. Everyone would have an opportunity to stand.
Not sure everybody would have an opportunity, but knowing a parliamentary career would be for a finite period would make it easier to plan.
More importantly MPs would focus on what can they achieve in their limited time in Parliament, rather than just how do they stay on as long as possible.