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Fixing the Four Year Term?

  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth 12/8 Chifley Square Sydney, NSW, 2000 Australia (map)

"In no democracy other than Australia are election dates so frequent and unpredictable. The capricious timing of elections engenders public cynicism and political instability. They should be fixed at four years." Gough Whitlam[1]

With a Private Members Bill before the House and recent statements of support from across the political spectrum, the concept of Fixed Four Year Terms for the Australian Parliament continues to be part of the national agenda. All states and territories bar one have made this change, yet there is no resolution in sight for the federal sphere.

Fixed four year terms – are they as logical and straightforward as they seem? What are the real or perceived obstacles, and how can they be overcome? The Whitlam Institute will host a compelling debate to bring new focus and clarity to this issue.

Moderated by Whitlam Institute Chair the Hon. John Faulkner, constitutional law expert George Williams and Editor-at-Large on The Australian Paul Kelly will debate the virtues and hazards of Fixing the Four Year Term.

With thanks to our generous hosts Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Hello, World!

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Paul Kelly is Editor-at-Large on The Australian. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of the paper and he writes on Australian politics, public policy and international affairs. He is a regular television commentator on Sky News and author of eight books including Triumph and Demise, on the Rudd-Gillard era, and The March of Patriots, a re-interpretation of Paul Keating and John Howard in office.

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Professor George Williams AO is one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers, having worked for many years as an academic and as a barrister. He is the Dean, the Anthony Mason Professor and a Scientia Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. George is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and a public commentator on public law issues, including a regular column in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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The Hon. John Faulkner was a Labor Senator for New South Wales from 1989 to 2015, and held a number of ministries in that period, including Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories and Minister for Defence. He served as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1996 to 2004. He has also been National President of the ALP, a member of its National Executive and Assistant General Secretary of the New South Wales Branch.


[1] Speech by the Hon. Gough Whitlam AC QC at ANU Law Faculty Dinner, 11 November 2000