OPINION: Unions back 'Yes' vote on four-year terms

ACROSS the state this Saturday, Queenslanders will go to the polls to vote in a referendum to introduce fixed four-year electoral terms.

While Queenslanders in regional areas are supposedly reluctant to back major changes in government, voting "yes" on Saturday brings many positives.

The referendum proposes that a state election will be held on the last Saturday of October every four years, irrespective of the government of the day.

The chances of bad weather preventing people getting to polling booths are reduced with an October election, at the end of the "dry" season in the state's north.

This is a unique opportunity for Queenslanders to create a more stable electoral cycle to benefit business, workers and the community.

Four-year terms operate in every other mainland state and territory and one wonders why Queensland should be so different.

In all of the jurisdictions where four-year terms have been introduced there has been no groundswell for a return to three-year terms.

The CCIQ and the QCU don't always agree. This is hardly surprising as these respective organisations represent the views of members and there are just some things that employees and employers will never agree on.

But it is truly remarkable when Queensland peak employer and employee groups agree on the benefits of four-year terms with set election dates.

Even less likely is the agreement of the major political parties who seem to enjoy bickering about most things. Politicians are accused of self-interest when they seek longer terms, so it is important that non-politicians prosecute the arguments for four-year terms.

Queenslanders want better policies and less politics, particularly when there are so many people concerned about jobs and jobs growth.

Government has a role to play in the creation of employment by the development and approval of major projects in Queensland. Three-year turnarounds are simply not long enough for governments and proponents to get major projects up and running. And three years is just a nominal target - the average length of time between the last 10 Queensland government elections is just two years and seven months.

Workers rely on government for the development of policy and legislation intended to improve their working lives. The stability of fixed terms promotes sound policy development and implementation.

Business, in particular small business, suffers from reducing consumer spend associated with election speculation. Delaying major infrastructure projects that would have cascaded economic benefits injures business and the economy.

Short election terms unnecessarily add to the uncertainty associated with government economic and fiscal policies. A CCIQ survey found that 78% of businesses consider there to be a negative impact on the Queensland economy as a result of state elections and associated campaign periods.

The peak councils of employers and employees in Queensland urge Queenslanders to bring governance in Queensland into line with other states. We need stability in government to work together for the future. To allow governments to govern for four years, as they do in every other mainland jurisdiction, vote yes in the referendum.

  -- Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan and Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens

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