Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (23.7.17) about Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s proposal to extend the tenure of federal governments to fixed four-year terms. Shorten says the federal political system seemed “out of whack in that everything is so short term”.
‘Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called for a pre-election agreement between government and opposition that whichever side wins will hold a referendum for fixed four-year terms.
‘Soon after Shorten, interviewed on the ABC’s Insiders, put up his proposal on Sunday morning, Malcolm Turnbull rang him on various matters.
‘The prime minister’s office said that Turnbull had said he was interested in talking with Shorten about four-year terms, while noting there were a lot of complications.
‘But it denied suggestions Turnbull had given to bipartisan support to Shorten’s proposal. Labor insists it did not suggest that Turnbull had given bipartisan support. To pass, a referendum would have to get majority support, plus a majority in four of six states.
‘… While four-year terms have substantial backing in the business community and elsewhere and operate at state level – Queensland last year passed a referendum for a four-year term – dealing with Senate terms is a central problem in winning support.’