Bill Shorten calls for four-year terms for federal parliament, seeks bipartisan support

Opposition Leader, Australian Labor Party Bill Shorten. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/ Getty Images.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has called for four-year federal parliamentary terms to encourage more long-term policy planning.

It has been reported that prime minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke to Shorten today after the opposition leader raised it in an interview on ABC TV this morning.

The short political life of federal governments brings obvious pressures as governments are forced to start thinking about election timing around a year after getting elected. Pressure on leaders is compounded if backbenchers see sagging poll numbers and start wondering about turning around party fortunes as election deadlines start to loom.

Shorten told ABC’s Insiders program this morning that the proposal would need bipartisan support. The change would require a constitutional referendum.

“We need both Labor and Liberal to co-operate on four-year terms,” Shorten said. “If Labor just said we need four-year terms, it would fail. But I think it’s not about Labor our Liberal; I think it’s about the nation. I think the nation needs four-year terms. Governments can be more daring and more determined if they’re not constantly think about the next election.”

The Australian reports that Turnbull’s office has been angered at the portrayal of a phone conversation today as signalling bipartisan support. However, the PM and Shorten will discuss the issue when they next meet.

Here’s the clip from Shorten’s interview on ABC today.