Vot­ers need a say in de­bate on MPs’ terms

Isis Town and Country - - News -

ANY plan for Queens­land to in­tro­duce four-year terms must be de­cided by the vot­ing pub­lic, ac­cord­ing to Mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett.

Premier Camp­bell New­man raised the prospect of ex­tend­ing the du­ra­tion of gov­ern­ment terms last week.

He called for La­bor leader An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk to con­sider a bi­par­ti­san ap­proach.

All other Aus­tralian states’ leg­isla­tive as­sem­blies sit for four-year terms.

Mr Ben­nett ad­mit­ted sit­ting gov­ern­ments had a clear ad­van­tage in be­ing able to call an elec­tion within their terms, but said the idea of align­ing Queens­land’s elec­toral process with the rest of the coun­try should be dis­cussed by the peo­ple.

“It’s cer­tainly some­thing I’d like to have con­sid­ered,” he said.

“More im­por­tantly it’s some­thing (on which) Queens­lan­ders should be able to have their say, so maybe some­thing like a plebiscite on that is­sue would be needed.”

In sup­port­ing his claim, Mr Ben­nett said Queens­lan­ders were “sick of the non­sense” of elec­tion cam­paigns, and trum­peted the ex­tra se­cu­rity four-year terms would bring.

Should Queens­land adopt four-year terms, it would follow ed­u­ca­tion as an area in which the state is align­ing it­self with the rest of the coun­try.

Mr New­man told the ABC last week the ex­tended terms would give more cer­tainty to Queens­lan­ders, and said he hoped Ms Palaszczuk would support the plan.

“I would be de­lighted to have fixed terms on the ta­ble for this elec­tion, but sadly it needs bi­par­ti­san support and that has not been forth­com­ing in pre­vi­ous years,” the Premier said.

Ms Palaszczuk sug­gested she was not in favour of such a move, a turn­around to state­ments she made fol­low­ing the La­bor Party’s heavy 2012 elec­tion de­feat.

At the time she said she would be open to dis­cus­sions with Mr New­man about the change, which she said the ALP had sup­ported for a “long time”.

Ms Palaszczuk ap­peared to rule out a move to four-year terms, say­ing she hadn’t “re­ceived one phone call” from Mr New­man dur­ing his time in of­fice, and that ev­ery­thing was “work­ing well” in the elec­toral sys­tem.

Mr Ben­nett en­cour­aged his con­stituents to have their say on the is­sue.

“This is politi­cians talk­ing about four-year terms.

“It needs to be peo­ple giv­ing their feed­back on whether it’s four or three – if they’re happy with the sys­tem we cur­rently have,” he said.

“Peo­ple should be able to give me their thoughts on that.”

What’s your view? Email me at matthew.mcin­er­ney@apn.com.au.

Premier Camp­bell New­man Sadly it needs bi­par­ti­san support and that has not been forth­com­ing in pre­vi­ous years.

PHOTO: MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

PEO­PLE SPEAK: Mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett favours a com­mu­nity de­bate on four-year terms for state politi­cians.

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