Editorial: Four-year term makes sense

WARWICK RASMUSSEN
Last updated 12:00 07/02/2013

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OPINION: A four-year electoral cycle for government would help make New Zealand a better place.

It would help the party or coalition in charge to guide the country in the direction their party or parties are based on.

While it is not the highest priority for the Government right now, it is a topic that has seen its time come.

Far from allowing a ruling party some kind of tyrannical reign, a four-year term means that plans can be put into action, rather than the electoral cycle being bookended by an election win, honeymoon period and an election campaign where policy and planning pretty much go out the window.

It allows clarity of policy and stability for the country and its economy.

With an MMP voting system, four years makes a lot more sense than three. It allows more of a settling-in period where potential coalition partners can spend a bit of time thrashing out their arrangements, rather than being pushed into a forced marriage of inconvenience.

From a historical perspective it all makes sense, too.

Since the 1930s only two governments have been in for one term before being booted out - Labour in 1957 and 1972, the latter followed prime minister Norm Kirk's death while in office.

What that demonstrates is that once a government is elected for a three-year term, New Zealanders are more than willing to give it a second chance at the next election.

Part of that is because voters believe that three years isn't enough time to put a vision into reality.

A four-year term allows that, while keeping a decent rein on a government.

Increasing the parliamentary term by a year is no magical solution to any specific problem, but it is a commonsense proposal that needs to be adopted. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Of course, a major downside is that any election winners get to say the George Gregan-esque line: "Four more years."

One more thing: We loved the inspirational story of Corporal Jason Sturley, which featured in yesterday's Manawatu Standard and online at manawatustandard.co.nz. He went through the devastating experience of losing a leg from below the knee while deployed in the Solomon Islands in 2007. He even watched as the leg was removed. Rather than have the amputation define him, Corporal Sturley has used the experience to motivate himself to be the best soldier he can be. His courage and perseverance should be an inspiration to us all.

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- Manawatu Standard

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