Why can’t we have longer parliamentary terms?
That was the question put by Mainfreight Managing Director Don Braid on Q & A yesterday.
Three years is too long with a government with which you disagree and not long enough for one you support, but a longer term would give us better governance.
Shorter parliamentary terms lead to short term thinking and short term policies.
In the first year in power a government is finding its feet and beginning to implement policy. In the second it starts making progress (or not depending on your point of view) then everything slows down for election year.
This is frustrating for anyone who has to deal with government and the public service.
It’s not just businesses which find the stop-start-stop of the three year cycle frustrating.
The CE of a charitable trust which gets contracts with a ministry said it is very, very difficult to do much in election year, especially in the last few months of the term.
A four-year term would also reduce costs – every 12 years there would be one fewer election to finance.
That would be good for taxpayers and for the volunteers who fund raise for political parties.
It would also help ratepayers because if parliament went to a four-year term then local government would too.
The idea of a four-year term has not in the past found majority support from the public. I think that is at least in part due to a suspicion of politicians.
But it is one of the matters under discussion the constitutional review which is taking place.
If that group of non-politicians recommended it, the idea might gain traction.