Directors call for referendum for four year fixed terms of Federal Parliament

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Australian Institute of Company Directors has called on major political parties to commit to a 2017 referendum for four-year fixed terms of Parliament as part of their Federal election campaigns.

“On July 2, Australians will again be at the ballot box even though it is less than three years since the last election. On average, the last 15 Federal Parliaments have run for terms of just two and a half years,” said John Brogden, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

“We need a better system that gives our governments and those who run them the ability to make long-term decisions in the best interests of our nation. Any electorate, especially in a compulsory voting system, deserves governments that can run full-term for a sensible period and shoulder true responsibility for their performance - good or bad,” Mr Brogden said.

Over the last 30 years, all the states and territories have moved to four-year terms, and most have also adopted a fixed term. Queensland was the last jurisdiction to join following a successful referendum in March.

Fixed election cycles are also common globally. The United Kingdom recently moved from variable to fixed five-year terms. France and Indonesia also have five-year terms, while the US and German governments serve four-year terms.

“The recent failures of our short and variable Parliaments are obvious. Policies are discarded too quickly, either before they are implemented or too soon after implementation for their impact to be properly assessed. The recent shambolic tax debate is an example.

“We call on the Liberal Party, ALP, Nationals and Greens to commit to a referendum by the end of 2017 for fixed four-year terms in the House of Representatives and eight-year terms in the Senate.

“Fixed four-year terms of parliament won't guarantee better government for Australians but will provide the structure for it,” Mr Brogden said.

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