[Note to readers:
This essay was written in 2002 and draws much of its poll data
from the 1992 daylight saving referendum. You can find a critique of more
recent research data at the Light
of Day essay: A
review of the Qld government DST research report 2007. According
to the 2007 research, support for a separate daylight saving time zone
for SE Qld is still in the minority - 41% from SE Qld and 33% statewide.
Another statewide poll undertaken for the
Sunday Mail in
the same month (June 2007) showed even less support - SEQ 33%; statewide
28%. Author, Light of Day, November 2008]
Dual time zone or 'Double Standard' Time?
Since its defeat in the 1992 referendum,
Queensland's daylight saving lobby has set its sights on the seemingly
more attainable target of a separate summer time zone for Brisbane and
the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, with the rest of the state remaining on
a nation that already labours across five time zones in summer, the confusion
of adding a 'Southeast Queensland Time' would effectively create a psuedo-'sixth'.
If successful, other disgruntled pro- and anti-daylight saving minorities,
such as Perth in Western Australia and rural New South Wales, may follow
suit - thus creating a potential 'seventh' and 'eighth'.
you can't keep a powerful lobby group down. Overwhelmingly driven by the
Brisbane-Gold Coast business sector, the dual time zone movement sees
itself as a vital player in a national economy with a demand for total
time zone uniformity between the eastern capitals. Armed with the much-quoted
'majority support' for daylight saving in southeast Queensland, the
idea of a dual summer time system for the state is vigorously promoted
as the only solution to the problem that 'won't go away'.
dual time systems are not new. Queensland's Whitsunday tourist resorts
use daylight saving in line with southern states, while in New South Wales,
Broken Hill operates on South Australian (Central) time. These minor sub-time
zones have worked, or appear to work, due to their isolated geographic
and economic environments. The Whitsunday tourist resorts are one-industry,
island economies and Broken Hill is largely a one-company town situated
in one of the world's most sparsely populated areas.
there is no known example, either in Australia or overseas, of a capital
city putting itself on a separate time zone from the rest of its state
- and with good reason. A capital city shares a complex, interdependent
and central role in its state's affairs. Queensland's dual time zone movement
seeks to minimise this relationship by the use of softeners, such as 'limited'
or 'restricted' daylight saving. It is assumed that if a tiny percentage
of the state's landmass comes under a separate time zone, this might prove
directly proportionate to its social impact.
Such a hope pales in the cold
light of day. With the capital city on a separate time zone, all intrastate
transactions - including government administration, commercial trading,
airline and transport schedules, tourist activity, TV and radio programming,
sports matches and interpersonal contacts - between the Brisbane
area and most of the state would have to be conducted across two time
zones for part of each year.
seem to be talking Double-Standard Time here. While Brisbane 'cannot afford'
to be out of sync with southern capitals, dual time zone rhetoric assumes
that it can easily absorb the social and financial cost of being out of
sync with its own state.
This attitude is not only myopic,
it's also redundant. Unlike the late sixties, when daylight saving first
came to Australia, we live now in an era of flexible work practices, extended
trading hours, 24-hour banking and worldwide telecommunication - all of
which render messy clock-jiggering unnecessary. Yet the insulated, air-conditioned
boardrooms of Brisbane-Gold Coast CBDs refuse to entertain more flexible
alternatives to total time zone uniformity with the eastern capitals.
This is despite a largely unacknowledged
preference among the general public to save daylight by adjusting
business hours rather than time zones. In fact, adjustments to business
hours were overwhelmingly the most favoured alternative option in public
submissions to the Queensland Daylight Saving Trial Task Force during
1989-90. This option outweighed calls for a dual time zone almost three
times over, but was completely ignored in the Task Force's final recommendations.
The dual time zone movement also
fails to acknowledge that surveys taken since the 1992 referendum have
failed to reveal an increase in daylight saving support anywhere in the
state. A statewide survey in 1995 showed a slight swing against daylight
saving and a 1999 Gold Coast survey could only raise a 'two-thirds support'
figure among the local population (no change from its 67 per cent
'Yes' vote in 1992). In January 2005, a statewide Sunday Mail survey
showed 47 per cent support; again, almost identical to the referendum
in the state's greater south-east, which contains approximately 62 per
cent of the population, the daylight saving support base is lukewarm at
best and dwindles significantly as soon as you leave the NSW border. The
67 per cent majority support on the Gold Coast drops dramatically to just
under 60 per cent in Brisbane and just over 50 per cent in Ipswich and
the Sunshine Coast. Taking in the rest of the greater southeast, from
Warwick to Bundaberg, overall average support drops to below the halfway
figures tend to refute the '60 per cent' southeast Queensland
support base often quoted by the dual time zone lobby. In reality, this
support base fluctuates between 40 and 60 per cent, depending how far
north or west you decide to put a time zone border. To preserve a 'pure'
majority support base, the dual time zone border would have to be restricted
to virtually the outskirts of Brisbane and only the Gold and Sunshine
Coast beaches (excluding their hinterlands). For a separate internal time
zone to work, however, it needs to cover a much larger portion of the
state than this, in order to provide a commercial buffer zone for the
considering the 'border' problems inherent in an internal dual time
zone arrangement, there needs to be a strongly committed support base
among the partitioned population. What we have is a lukewarm support
base in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and a borderline or majority opposition
everywhere else in southeast Queensland - a recipe for even more division,
disruption and hostility than in the status quo.
do the above figures fit the dual time zone mythology that the southeast is
being held back by some kind of cows-and-curtains parochialism beyond
the Dividing Range. In fact, overall daylight saving opposition in southeast
Queensland is still fairly comparable to that of the immediate
western and central parts of the state.
the capital city needs to belatedly acknowledge what many Queenslanders
(including roughly half the southeast) instinctively accept - that our
daylight saving dilemna has always been one of latitude, not attitude.
Daylight saving was originally designed by high-latitude nations to suit
their gloriously mild summer days and strongly contrasting seasonal
contrast, Queensland is situated between 30 and 10 degrees S - the wrong
side of daylight politics. Because of our hot, humid climate and
limited seasonal daylight variation, daylight saving would be of almost
no benefit to the overall state and would actually impose hardship
on large sections of it. This lonely fact of life is Queensland's real
daylight saving dilemna, one that will only be exacerbated by partitioning
off its capital city into a self-imposed twilight zone.
History has shown that
partitions of any kind merely entrench existing social divisions and are
ultimately self-defeating. Queensland is more than a line on a map. It's
a culture, a history and a way of life - things you can't set your watch
to. If we were ever to become 'two Queenslands', it would be a dark day
2002 (updated 2003, 2005)
Daylight Saving Task Force
Secretariat, Report of the Trial of Daylight Saving 29 October 1989
to 4 March 1990, Department of Employment, Vocational Education, Training
and Industrial Relations, Brisbane 1990.
Electoral Commission of
Queensland, Daylight Saving Referendum Statistical Returns 1992, July