NZ considers four-year terms, youth voting

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Four-year parliamentary terms, underage voting and political donations are on the table in a major review of New Zealand's electoral laws.

Jacinda Ardern's government has announced a broad brushstroke look into the nation's electoral system, with any changes to be made in time for the 2026 election.

That includes the current voting age of 18, overseas voting, term lengths, and funding political parties.

New Zealanders currently vote for their MPs every three years, but growing credence has been given to four-year terms.

Both Ms Ardern and opposition leader Judith Collins gave personal support to the idea live on stage during an election debate last year.

Ms Ardern on Tuesday said she remained personally supportive of an additional year but wanted "to find a way to get a bit of consensus".

Ms Collins said four-year terms would be "more useful" but her party would only support a shift via a referendum, as "elections belong to the people, they don't belong to MPs".

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has written to other parliamentary parties seeking "broad, non-partisan support for any changes", and will engage a select committee process to seek public views.

He has ruled out changing NZ's mixed-member proportionate (MMP) voting system, online voting, Maori seats or becoming a republic.

The review will cost around $NZ6.2 million ($A5.9 million) over four years.

Alongside that review, Mr Faafoi said the government wanted to change political donation laws in time for the next poll, in 2023.

"We're looking at improving the transparency of political donations to make it easier to see where the money is coming from," he said, saying real-time donation disclosure was a possibility.

The government will also look at changes to ensure overseas voters are disenfranchised due to COVID-19.

Kiwis must visit New Zealand at least once in the three years prior to a poll to be able to vote, but border restrictions have made that difficult for many internationally-based voters.

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