The
campaign for four-year parliamentary terms – a cause beloved of
politicians of all stripes – has hit further trouble with the release
of an opinion poll, reported in yesterday’s Age, showing public opinion running strongly against the idea, 54% to 38%.

More surprising was the fact that a prominent politician spoke out against the consensus of self-interest. Speaking on Meet the Press yesterday morning, my local member Lindsay Tanner confessed himself “a sceptic” on the issue:

“I
worry about the fact that the push that’s come for four-year terms
mostly comes from people in the business community who think it would
be a really good idea to sort of have as few elections as possible and
then governments could get on with doing all those unpopular things
that people don’t like.”

Well put. The push for four-year terms
is driven by two things: politicians who want career security, and
pundits who distrust democracy. It probably won’t go much further this
time, since, as Tanner said, it seems that “the prime minister is just
playing games.” But friends of democracy should be vigilant all the
same.

Peter Fray

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