National promises to introduce legislation on extending parliamentary term to four years

By Danielle Clent for RNZ

National's Christopher Luxon has promised New Zealand First and ACT to introduce legislation on a referendum to extend the parliamentary term to four years.

The agreement with ACT promises to move this within the first 15 months in power.

The new government - a three-way coalition between National, New Zealand First and ACT - was revealed on Friday morning.

National's Luxon will be the new Prime Minister, with New Zealand First's Winston Peters and ACT's David Seymour each appointed Deputy Prime Minister for 18 months - with Peters going first.

Talks between the parties had been ongoing until earlier this week, with Peters telling media they were "seriously long, difficult and complicated ... arduous and extreme".

Among a number of agreements made during the talks, National has agreed to push for four years between general elections.

The agreement with ACT states it will: "Pass the Constitution (Enabling a 4-Year Term) Amendment Bill through first reading in the first 15 months of the term."

Where the agreement with New Zealand First states it will: "Support to Select Committee a bill that would enact a binding referendum on a four-year term of Parliament."

Both parties have pushed for an extension of the parliamentary term in the past.

Luxon also supports extending the term, the New Zealand Herald reported earlier this year.

Peters wanted it done at this year's election, telling a crowd in August that the current three-year term was too short.

But he wanted voters - not political parties - to be the ones who decided whether it be extended or not.

"Elections are expensive so it will save money and get better long-term outcomes for our country," he said at the time.

In 2021, Seymour introduced a bill to Parliament - the Regulatory Standards Act Bill - which he hoped would give more time for the government to implement laws.

During the 2020 general election, then Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Judith Collins were asked about four-year terms.

Both replied with an emphatic "yes" with Ardern adding "we might be able to do that".

New Zealand has one of the shortest parliamentary terms in the world.

Of 190 countries with parliaments, 103 have five-year terms, 74 have four-year terms, and just nine governments are in power for three years before an election is held.

A 2020 survey, conducted by Research New Zealand, showed of 1000 people, 61 percent supported moving from a three-year term to a four-year term.

About 25 percent were against it, and the rest were undecided.