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Howard open to four-year terms -

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(generated from captions) have applied to the Senate. because the 4-year terms would also but not a top priority. He now says it's a good idea, I am not certain, incidentally, both sides of politics, that even if it were supported by vote in favour of 4-year terms that the Australian people would in a referendum. the longer terms, The Labor Party has long wanted to be fixed but would prefer election dates

as happens now in most states. Make governments plan for the long term and concentrate not on getting themselves continually re-elected, but on governing well. So 4-year fixed terms would help that. My personal preference is to have a minimum of three years with a maximum of four, so that the prime minister of the day and the government of the day can decide the exact date.

Labor is less convinced, though,

by some of the other ideas being floated within the government.

It's implacably opposed to ending compulsory voting and closing off the electoral roll as soon as a poll is called, which it says would disenfranchise up to 80,000 people. The Liberals make it harder for people to vote because the Liberals think that if more people vote, they are less likely to vote Liberal. This is a long-standing Liberal commitment to reducing the numbers of people at the polls. I would hope that Mr Howard, nor anybody in his government, is intending to rob Australians of a very important system,

which is a system where we all get out and vote and decide who our government should be. Kim Beazley has suggested there be a referendum on 4-year terms

at the same time as the next election - an idea John Howard says he's not mad keen on. Dana Robertson, Lateline. Earlier this week,

The United States Supreme Court has a new chief justice, with the Senate approving President George W. Bush's nominee overnight. At 50 years old, John Roberts is the youngest chief justice in 200 years and only the 17th in the court's history. Although not unanimous,

the Senate approved the lifetime appointment by a large majority. The nomination of John G. Roberts Junior of Maryland

to be Chief Justice of the United States is confirmed. He replaces the late William Rehnquist, who sat on the bench for 33 years. Many hope he will follow the path of his conservative predecessor, but Mr Roberts rejects the role of judge as activist. I view the vote this morning as confirmation for what is, for me is a bedrock principle - that judging is different from politics.