Daylight saving on the cards

It seems democracy doesn’t matter much to the current Western Australian government. Their response to three referendums telling them “no” to daylight saving (the last two after trial periods of one year) is to try and force it on Western Australians without a vote, with the staunch support of our limited media sources (The West Australian and News Ltd, who’ve adopted almost a preachy tone in recent issues on the subject). Their strongest supporters are Labor MPs for some of the newest Perth areas, many of whose people clearly would like Western Australia to conform to their ideas of home, much as the English did when they arrived here in 1829 and started trying to plant English gardens and social rules wherever they went in complete defiance of the local weather and climate.

Now I know that some (including some of my friends) would like to see it come in, but not one person has given me a good reason why it should be implemented. I’ve heard a lot of derision about somewhat obscure arguments relating to dairy farming and faded curtains, but that is not and has never been the reasoning of myself and those I know who have argued against it.

Many of the reasons given offer no benefit to Perth, a city of seemingly eternal summer sunshine at 32°S latitude. A point often missed by commentators is that the benefits enjoyed by Melburnians in particular relate to their higher latitude – at around 38°S, there is more difference between summer and winter. At that latitude, entire nights can be made light by the idea, with almost no sacrifice in the mornings, due to longer daylight hours to start with. They compensate by having comparatively short days to Perth in winter. I saw this in Vancouver, Canada, as well, a city of 49°N latitude where the sun was setting at almost 10pm in the peak of summer under daylight saving, and rising at 4am.

In Perth, however, this seasonal variance is much slighter. The shortest day rises two hours later and sets two hours earlier than in winter. In Geraldton and in our mining centres this is as little as 45 minutes. At the other end of the day, for three months of the period one is getting up in the dark to go to work or school if one has any kind of commute at all. With such a vast state, cutting it in half is impractical, especially when strong trading relationships exist within the state – I briefly worked in the transport industry (sorry to disappoint, just data entry :)) and was forever sending truckloads of stuff to places all over the northwest and Kimberley.

The second issue is one of weather. Anyone who has been to, or spent any time in Melbourne, Sydney or Newcastle will know that the sort of dry, open sunshine we get for months on end in Perth simply doesn’t happen there. I well remember my first visit to Melbourne in mid-January 1997 where it was 42 one day then 22 and wet the next – the words “four seasons in one day” seem to have been written for it. Sydney’s humidity, having a sub-tropical rather than temperate climate despite being 2° latitude south of us, ensures the burning sun requiring SPF 30+ for even short exposures isn’t nearly the issue there that it is here. What converted me and, it seems, a number of people during the last trial was that kids coming home from school were now doing it at 2pm in GMT+8 instead of 3pm, which as we all remember falls within the sun danger zone. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and WA the highest within Australia. We should be doing everything we can as a state to get this level down.

Thirdly, and very importantly, the fact that a majority of Western Australians do not want it. I raise the issue neutrally wherever I go and it seems to go about 2/3 in favour of the status quo.

Finally, the “everybody else is doing it so why can’t we” argument. We live in a globalised world where our primary resources are our main export and our primary clients are in Asia. By some blessing of geography, we are in the same time zone as Singapore, Malaysia and China. Also, our partners in the US, Europe etc go the opposite direction – some nationally based companies with predominant trading relationships with Europe have located their national head offices in Perth or Brisbane to take advantage of this.

What a few eastern states (not even all) decided to do at some point in the 1970s for reasons that made sense in their climate and circumstances does not bind us into some sort of inferiority complex mentality that we have to somehow “keep up” with the “eastern states”. It’s such a parochial mentality, and the fact so many Sydneysiders are moving here suggests otherwise anyway.

I say fix the shopping hours and never mind the whingers, or the cows. 🙂 The state government should be focussing on core issues like health and education and not trying to divide the community on non-issues.


15 Responses to Daylight saving on the cards

  1. Mark Samford says:

    I was doing a search and found your article, glad to know somebody has a sensible and reasoned approach to this! I am finding the local papers here extremely insulting, I actually come from a place which has/had daylight savings and with young kids it’s not something you want to deal with at all. Plus with people who don’t set the clocks forward on the right day or too early or what have you and then turn up for work in their own time, small businesses think this will be good but for the average punter in Perth it means giving up another piece of our freedom to inflexible government regulation. I have contacted my local MP (labor) but he doesn’t want to know, that’s pretty obvious. So much for representing the working man.

  2. Ryan Fynn says:

    I found the article by chance, I am writing to my MP as I am all for it.. Adjusting the clocks an hour is not too hard. For someone like myself it means I get an extra hour after work to be active while it is light.

    I consider myself a working man, I work from 8am-6pm (if I am let out early) daily. To me, an extra hour in the evening to go to the beach, or for a run around the river.. Or a cycle would be great.

    I understand that there are people out there with kids who are not happy as their kids now have to spend more time at home in the sun?? Maybe they can be made to study during the day and then get fresh air later in the evenings when their parent/s get back from work (an extra hour a day to spend with your kids, take a trip to the beach, a family cycle.. would be priceless)..

    As for following other states/countries… I am not too worried about it, call me selfish but I just want an extra hour of daylight in the evening (mainly as I am too lazy to get out of bed at 5am to enjoy the extra summer sun..

  3. Michael Beaumont says:

    Response to Daylight Savings on the Cards

    This article confuses people into thinking it is a well-reasoned and logical article; in essence it is just another biased anti-DST discourse.

    The latest scare, that of skin-cancer is scraping the bottom of the barrel by the ‘anti’ lobby. Even with the current time zones I see many people on the beaches of Perth at all times of the day. One extra hour of sunlight in the evening will not increase the risk of skin cancer. The sun-worshipper will sun bathe in whatever hours of daylight they can get.

    The problems of the cows and the ‘poor dairy farmers’. Well many other countries in the world, and some states in Australia, have Daylight Savings Time. The cows seem to do fine and the farmers seem to be able to get their milk. Or maybe cows are different in WA?

    “The children won’t go to bed in daylight” lobby. Have you ever heard of parental discipline? I lived in England as I child and we had daylight savings time. I was sent to bed at a time that my parents thought reasonable; not at a time set by the sunset.

    The ‘get up earlier’ brigade seem to enjoy a perception that those of us who want daylight savings time go to work at 9am. I suspect this view is mainly supported by those individuals who have their cement mixers turning over on the building sites at 6:30am, even if it is still dark and working under the those conditions could be conceived as dangerous. But hey it gets them a longer afternoon at home, so who needs DST mate? My wife and I are up at 5:30am each day and leave the house at 6:15 to get to work. We are usually arriving home at about 6pm.

    And then there is the underlying childish WA attitude at work here. It is the “We don’t want anything to do with what the Eastern States do” mentality.

    Yes, I too am one of the those selfish people who would like to have an hour to sit on my patio to relax whilst it is still light. Bring on the DST; give it a fair chance. I am farily certain that the world won’t come to an end.

    Now if we could only get some sense on those ridiculously restrictive shopping hours.

  4. JL says:

    This is an excellent article. Well done!

    The WA case is particularly infuriating. Why it is so important for WA MPs to compromise our fragile democracy just for the sake of being 2, instead of 3, hours behind Sydney and Melbourne shows an absence of imagination that is beyond belief.

    Indeed, having a referendum on the same subject every 10 to 15 years is not democracy – it’s bullying.

    Also, if anyone were to assess all the Australian editorials, opinion pieces and feature articles written on daylight saving over the last 15 years or so, I’m willing to bet that about 98 per cent have made a quip about fears of ‘fading the curtains’, ‘confusing the cows’ or ‘interfering with God’s time’ whenever they refer to daylight saving opposition.

    It’s a clever piece of manipulation, because it ensures that any daylight saving opposition argument is automatically discredited in the mind of the reader. It also ensures that the real reasons – like latitude, longitude and seasonal daylight patterns – don’t enter the frame of reference.

    If you want to know more about how real daylight saving opponents think and feel: I recommend you look at this website: which has a number of articles, news items and links on the anti-daylight saving case, from a Queensland, Australian and world perspective.

    Another recommended read is the book: ‘Spring Forward: the annual madness of daylight saving’, by Michael Downing. What is brilliant about this book is that it shows very clearly that daylight saving is not, and never has been, a grassroots lifestyle or energy-saving movement. For almost a century, all daylight saving controversy – whether to introduce it or extend it – is overwhelmingly driven by the business sector. And guess who pays the media’s bills? Food for thought.

  5. Colin says:

    I cant belive that every 10 years having a referendum about daylight savings could ever be considered bulling. Just ask all those 17 year olds that have to wait 11 years before there opinion is considered vailid.

    Yes there is a huge cost attached to doing a referendum however we hold elections every three years. Why not ask these questions at that time. How long would it take to answer another questionair with say 5 questions on it at each election time. These questions should be irrelevant to which party is in power.

    Secondly i have a 3 1/2 year old son and i dictate what time he goes to bed at night. however i dont dictate what time he wakes up in the morning. ie with the sunlight. Gaining an extra hour in the morning for him to sleep would be great. Not to mention what we could spend our early evening doing.

    Im a Definite YES for daylight saving! and cant understand why anyone could be against it. Cows / cancer / curtins fading / kids not going to bed / are just crazy arguments.

    WA has an ageing populas and the old are always very negitive to change in any form. that is why i belive it has not passed a referendum to date. Similar reasons with Extended trading hours. (if you think you would have to work longer and dont like it change your job).

    My 2c worth.

  6. Abbie says:

    I am quite undecided about daylight savings. I think it would be great for those families who finish work at say 6pm and they will have an extra hour to spend with their family. But i also see where the farmers are coming from (being a country girl myself). They animals (ie. cattle and sheep) work on solar time so the farmers would still have to get up at the normal time everymorning in order to do their work. As for the cancer situation, people dont have to be in the sun for longer do they? they dont have to go out in the sun if they dont want to. And as for curtins fading….that is just ridiculous!

  7. Andrew says:

    My argument re cancer actually related to kids coming home from school, and more to the point, the fact that noone has yet presented me with any reason why, here in Perth, we need daylight saving. The argument “everyone else is doing it so why can’t we” belongs in the playground, and people overestimate the effect it will actually have based on perceived benefits in cities and countries with much higher latitude (the closer one gets to the equator, the lesser the benefits – I can only wonder what people up north are thinking, I’ve talked to a few in my time and they generally believe they are run by a dictatorship from Perth). I’m broadly in agreement with JL’s post above (sorry I didn’t reply earlier!)

    Oh, and after getting stranded in Butler at 8pm the other night with no public transport, only one shop open that didn’t even sell Gatorade and not a single taxi anywhere in sight, one really wonders if the state actually plan to offer more services to take advantage of any alleged benefits of these extended hours.

  8. JL says:

    Abbie writes: ‘As for the cancer situation, people don’t have to be in the sun for longer do they? They don’t have to go out in the sun if they don’t want to do they?’

    Yes they do, Abbie. That’s the whole point of the skin-cancer/DLS argument – and it’s what Andrew means about kids coming home from school (if I’m using your name in vain, Andrew, please correct me). Under the daylight saving trial, ALL children across WA now HAVE to travel home during the hot DLS months at what is now 2.00pm instead of 3.00pm. If you view the UV index for Perth at the Australian Government’s Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety website:, you’ll find that the UV levels at 14.00 hours are significantly higher than at 15.00 hours – by about 30 per cent. The further north you go, the worse it gets. Children also have to have lunch at what would now be about 12pm instead of 1.00pm, and participate in sports programs at what would now be about 12.30pm instead of 1.30pm. Admittedly, there is a corresponding UV drop at the beginning of the day when children are travelling to school, but both the standard time and DLS scenarios for the morning fall way outside the danger period from 10am to 2pm (11 to 3 DLS).

    Children do not get a say in this increased daily UV exposure. Nor do they get a say in how far they live from their school or from their bus or train station, or whether they are driven to school or picked up, or whether they go to a school that has adequate shade cover to compensate for their increased UV exposure during their lunch breaks due to the introduction of DLS.

    As for your comment that ‘as for curtins fading, that’s just ridiculous’. On that we agree. However, DLS arguments about curtains fading are like Humphrey Bogart’s famous quote from Casablanca: ‘Play it again, Sam!’ The fact is that Humphrey Bogart never said it. It’s a myth that’s been attributed to him and, strangely, has become one of Hollywood’s most famous lines. But it never existed as a quote. So too with the faded curtain and confused cow arguments constantly attributed to DLS opponents – they have never used these arguments. They are a myth. By consistently subscribing to this myth (and this includes many journalists, politicians and academics who should know better), DLS advocates are simply betraying their own ignorance.

  9. Interlogue says:

    More on daylight saving

    It seems the West has finally turned a corner in its reporting on this issue. After the Nationals’ poll, which now has 37,000 signatures demanding an early referendum for daylight saving, and the former Liberal leader Matt Birney’s desire t…

  10. Greg says:

    In the previous 3 referendums on daylight savings, the yes vote was lost in the metropolitan area 51% NO – 49% Yes. AFTER the country vote was counted it was 53% NO – 47% Yes. Nothing will change no matter how many referendums we have, the answer will always be NO!!!

    1975: 46.3 Yes 53.7 No
    1984: 45.7 Yes 54.3 No
    1992: 46.9 Yes 53.1 No

  11. Mark Kilpatrick says:

    Well, almost over for another year. This summer has been absolutely insane with the daylight saving, you can’t even go outside most days until after 6pm, dad and friends are staying back at work because they don’t want to stand on a sweaty train the whole way home – it sort of defeats the point, doesn’t it? I was reading the other day that the Nationals Party got 80,000 signatures against daylight saving and the Parliament wouldn’t even hear it. Why is this such a critical issue that Western Australia needs to be turned into a totalitarian state – might it be that the government are terrified of us?

    Thought Id share an email with you too.
    1975 – Brian Burke wins a byelection, all of a sudden, daylight saving trial.
    1984 – Brian Burke wins his first election, another one.
    1992 – Brian Burke’s on trial for WA Inc – so hell why not, another one.
    2006 – Corrupt former minister with ties to Brian Burke delivers private members’ bill, mysteriously gets Labor and Liberal support and gets it through this time for THREE YEARS.

    Could it be? Nah, never.

  12. Ryan Fynn says:

    To me it seems there is a correlation between education and worldliness between whether one is for or against DLS.

    It seems the less educated and less well travelled one is, the more opposed they are to DLS. Change is bad, it must be a conspiracy…

    It seems every 10 years or so the government wants to see if their people have become smarter and more wordly.

    WA has grown alot over the last few years and I am guessing the majority of new people to WA will be for DLS. It will enable them to enjoy this new country/state they have moved to more.

    I am excited about the arrival of DLS this year and will try to do my part in getting others like myself to voice their opinion. Interlogue mentions 37,000 signatures for an early referendum. 37,000 out of 1,500,000 people is not really very many.

    Bring on Daylight Saving.

  13. moonshine WA says:

    The arguments for and against have become tired and I like many West Aussies have begun to switch off, but before I do may I comment. Some argue that daylight saving does not affect business and that we should look at how other countries cope. I beg to differ, most large countries don’t have a centralized banking sector and related services where all decision making occurs, in one time zone. It’s not the correlation between Brian Burkes rise and fall, but the 20+ year emergence of a centralized banking system. As to West Aussies and the derogatory comments like dull, behind the times, we don’t travel,where too far away etc. It’s not big business that has made WA such a success, they simply invested in what we have invested in all our lives. We enjoy solid wealth because for 50 years we have worked the farms, mines and related industries, developed our skills and educated our children who today are sought after from industries all over the world. My own son studying robotic engineering with a desire to do a masters at the world renown WA school of mines in Kalgoorlie. He has traveled the world but more importantly has traveled much of Australia just like the majority of West Australians. As to us being too far away from everything, what a narrow perspective, as to trade, travel and relevance, we are at the gateway not the back door. As to the huge influx of new people some 500.000 in the past ten years. They know nothing of Western Australia, least of all our normal summer heat not present in that ten years. Should those weather patterns return they too will prey for the sun to go down or leave as thousands have, burdening us with that dreaded daylight savings. As to the WA politicians and the WA Chamber of Commerce, we will not forget your disregard for the will of the people.

  14. Jill Merrin says:

    I’m speaking from NSW and hate daylight savings. Just because we have it on the east, doesn’t mean we all like it. The weather makes no difference, it’s the fact that those of us who enjoy our mornings now have to walk, swim, have our breakfast, etc, in the dark. Now it’s been extended to the end of April, it’s darker in the mornings than it is in the middle of winter.

    The extra daylight at the end of the day is spent cooking dinner, cleaning up, and collapsing in front of the telly. Maybe women find it worse than men, because more women are cooking dinner while the fellas are out enjoying their evening walks!

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