Queensland referendum closes in on a 'yes' for four-year fixed parliamentary terms

Queensland's political system is set for its biggest shake-up in decades as a referendum for fixed four-year terms looks likely to succeed.

On Sunday afternoon, just under half of the three million votes had been counted, the yes vote held a 53.16 per cent margin to the no vote's 46.84 per cent.

The Palaszczuk Government remained cautiously optimistic after driving the yes campaign with advertisements and a bipartisan promotional tour in the week leading into polling day.

Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said Queenslanders had decided they wanted a stable government.

"I think Queenslanders are showing good sense in terms of having provisions that other states have had for a long time," he said.

Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker said the result made sense.

"The figures we're seeing show that Queenslanders are prepared to think big, to think positive and to put in place a stable and forward looking plan for Queensland," Mr Walker said.

Unions and business groups back the change

Unions and business groups backed the change saying it will provide more stability for workers.

Ros McLennan from the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) said the expense of elections shouldn't be overlooked.

"It's going to save the taxpayer millions and millions of dollars that is better spent on health, schools and services that really matter," he said.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's Nick Behrens said a yes would give business the confidence to plan ahead.

"Two in three businesses record sales decreases during election periods, businesses delay investment decisions because of policy uncertainty, major projects get put on hold and accordingly the economic benefit that cascades across the economy also gets stalled," he said.

Civil Libertarians remain concerned

The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties said Queensland's parliamentary committee system was not enough to guarantee the fairness of legislation and the accountability of the Government.

"We have elections because we don't trust politicians, so people don't trust politicians but they don't want to have elections," said president Michael Cope.

"So far the committee system in Queensland hasn't functioned, in our view, as an effective replacement of an upper house."

But the Government disputes that.

"Let's not romanticise the upper house. Look what's going on in the Senate at the moment in Federal Parliament; it's a bit of a shambles, so you know upper houses aren't necessarily solve every problem either," Mr Bailey said.

"I think you need strong scrutiny of legislation and in Queensland we have a very strong parliamentary committee system."

Federal Government urged to consider four-year terms

Federal Government MP Trent Zimmerman said he wanted Queensland's debate over four-year Parliamentary terms to happen at a national level.

He said making the same move federally could improve planning and governance.

"One of the problems with three year terms has occasionally led to short-term decision-making," he said.

"Four-year terms just give you that slightly greater opportunity to be thinking about the challenges of not just today, but what's coming in the decades ahead."

Source: ABC News

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