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Key favours four-year Parliamentary term

Thursday 7 Feb 2013 11:13 a.m.

John Key (Reuters)

John Key (Reuters)

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By Peter Wilson, Political Writer

Prime Minister John Key says a four-year Parliamentary terms would be good for New Zealand but the change would have to be approved by voters through a referendum.

Changing the term from three years has been tested twice before, in 1967 and 1990.

"In two referendums it has been overwhelmingly rejected and I don't know if there is a mood for change, but my own view is that it would deliver better government," Mr Key said on Thursday.

"I know the mantra - three years is too short for a good government and four years is too long for a bad one. But the truth is elections slow down decision-making and they tend to have a negative impact on the economy."

Mr Key says three years isn't long enough for voters to assess whether a government is doing a good job.

"My view is that moving to four years with a fixed date for elections would give certainty and deliver better government and better results. But it would never take place unless New Zealanders have a chance to vote on it and decide they want to do it," he said.

Labour leader David Shearer agrees three years is too short, and with both the main parties favouring a change there would be the 75 percent majority in Parliament that's needed to amend electoral law without a referendum.

Mr Key says that might be possible but he wouldn't try it.

"Given that it's been taken to the people twice and both times it's failed, it would be a bit arrogant to do it with the stroke of a pen," he said.

"Over time a consensus might build for it."

Mr Key says it would take time to change the term, even if it was approved through a referendum.

"You wouldn't implement it one day one, it could take a couple of parliamentary terms," he said.

"It might not be in my term but I think it would be a good thing for New Zealand."


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