Time for four-year terms

New Zealand is ready for four-year parliamentary terms.

This is the view of the Maxim Institute and one with which I agree.

In a submission (see attached) to the Constitution Advisory Panel released today, Maxim Institute Researcher Kieran Madden argues that a fixed four-year term strikes the right balance between effective government and governmental accountability.

“Voters should have regular opportunities to tighten the reins on their elected representatives, but this must be balanced with the need to allow governments sufficient time to carry out what they promised and respond to problems as they arise,” says Mr Madden.

“With the changes to our constitutional landscape brought about by the move away from first past the post and the powerful majority governments it tended to produce, it is now time to look seriously at shifting the balance to allow more time for governments to govern well.”

“MMP has made enough of a difference to the way the powers of government are distributed and the legislative process carried out that the time is now right for Kiwis to decide this question at a referendum,” says Kieran Madden. . .

Three-year terms are short by international standards.

Even though one-term governments are rare, an election every three years slows down progress, adds uncertainty which impacts on growth, reduces productivity in the public sector and adds costs.

A four-year term would require less public money than three-year terms and it would also  demand less from volunteers who make a significant contribution to election campaigns.

9 Responses to Time for four-year terms

  1. Neil says:

    Three years too short for a good government.
    Four years too long for a bad government.
    Just look back to the times we have had a divideded government-1990 and 1984. Another year would have been a travesty of justice.


  2. robertguyton says:

    The Maxim Institute.

    Oh dear.


  3. jabba says:

    as usual the Maxim Institute has come up with good ideas. The thing is that if the last Labour Govt had another year into late 2009, the country would be skint


  4. Armchair Critic says:

    We already have, in effect, a six year term. In the last eighty years only two governments have failed to get re-elected after their first term, and if you consider the United/Reform series from 1912 to 1935 as different shades of the same thing, that can be extended back to the 19th century. What this means is that a new government has six years, rather than four, to implement the policies they campaigned for a change of government on. I think changing to a four year term is a recipe for less political stability and less political accountability.


  5. inventory2 says:

    Play the ball Robert, not the man (or the institute). This is not a left/right issue, or even a religious/non-religious one. Maxim has actually come up with a reasoned submission, deserving of serious consideration.


  6. robertguyton says:

    The Maxim Institute – deserving of serious consideration!

    Oh dear.

    Key’s Total Surveillance (Spy on all New Zealanders) Bill.
    That’s deserving of serious consideration. Done a thoughtful post on that, have you Keeping Stock?

    Oh dear.


  7. More than time to change – but with a longer term we need some sort of checks and balances like an upper house… at the moment, we are simply a dictatorship, the government in power can usually ram through whatever they want, regardless of opposing views either in the house or in the country…


  8. Armchair Critic says:

    We certainly need more checks and balances. An upper house could provide this, though there are other viable methods too. It won’t happen without cross-party support, and it won’t receive cross-party support because it is not in the interests of either of the major parties.


  9. Too right !!!


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