What Queens­lan­ders re­ally think about day­light saving

South­east calls for day­light saving, but they’re still dark on it up north

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - DARYL PASSMORE JEREMY PIERCE

TWO-THIRDS of peo­ple liv­ing in south­east Queens­land want to see day­light saving in­tro­duced across the state.

An ex­clu­sive YouGov Galaxy poll for The Courier-Mail shows 55 per cent of Queens­lan­ders back the change, with only 41 per cent op­posed.

That is a re­ver­sal of the re­sult at the last ref­er­en­dum on the is­sue more than a quarter of a cen­tury ago, when peo­ple voted 54.5 per cent to 45.5 per cent not to join the rest of the eastern seaboard states in putting the clocks for­ward an hour each sum­mer.

The new poll re­sult will put more pres­sure on the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment to re­visit the is­sue – and pos­si­bly put it to a pub­lic vote – with busi­ness and tourism lead­ers al­ready push­ing for change.

“There has been a def­i­nite shift, cer­tainly since the ref­er­en­dum,” said YouGov Galaxy manag­ing direc­tor David Briggs. Those in sup­port of day­light saving have also risen from 51 per cent since his firm last polled in 2007. But it re­mains a di­vi­sive is­sue, par­tic­u­larly be­tween south­east Queens­land and the rest of the state. While 66 per cent of those in SEQ want change, with 31 per cent against, the re­sults are re­versed out­side the re­gion – 33 per cent for, 62 per cent against.

Mr Briggs said it was likely high lev­els of in­ter­state mi­gra­tion to Queens­land had helped change at­ti­tudes and would con­tinue to do so.

Aus­tralian In­dus­try Group Queens­land head Shane Rodgers said: “The sur­vey re­sults con­firm what we sus­pected. Day­light saving is now sup­ported by the ma­jor­ity of Queens­lan­ders and the vast ma­jor­ity of busi­nesses in the state.

“We have the un­usual sit­u­a­tion where both side of pol­i­tics are now out of step with the ma­jor­ity opin­ion of the state and those who pro­vide jobs for Queens­lan­ders.

“We need to get this is­sue back onto the pol­icy agenda for a proper de­bate.

“And we need to start look­ing at how we can mit­i­gate the con­cerns in the re­gions so we don’t sti­fle in­vest­ment, jobs and tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties in the south­east by stay­ing out of step with the ma­jor eco­nomic cen­tres.”

AI Group has writ­ten to Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk and Op­po­si­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton seek­ing a fresh as­sess­ment of the costs of not align­ing Queens­land time with New South Wales and Vic­to­ria from Oc­to­ber to April each year.

It fol­lowed the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s own sur­vey show­ing 85 per cent of busi­nesses, in and out­side Queens­land, favour­ing change, with com­pa­nies dis­cour­aged from in­vest­ing and more staff here.

Queens­land Tourism In­dus­try Coun­cil CEO Daniel Gschwind said: “Our view is that hav­ing dif­fer­ent time zones is not help­ful to the tourism in­dus­try. It’s at least wor­thy of a dis­cus­sion.

“Western Queens­land has its own per­spec­tive be­cause there is a gen­uine dif­fer­ence with sun­light hours, but it re­ally makes no sense that there are dif­fer­ent time zones on the east coast sim­ply be­cause of a state bor­der.”

Cham­ber of Com­merce

and In­dus­try Queens­land head of in­dus­try Dan Petrie said: “The re­al­ity is that we are part of an in­te­grated na­tional econ­omy.

“The need to have one har­monised time zone is prefer­able. Given the un­like­li­hood of NSW and Vic­to­ria aban­don­ing Day­light Saving, the time for Queens­land to have a fresh dis­cus­sion about join­ing them is long overdue.”

Tom Tate, Mayor of Gold Coast, said it was high time an­other vote was held to bring Queens­land in line with the rest of the eastern seaboard.

Greater South­ern Gold Coast Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Hil­lary Ja­cobs said she would like to see day­light saving adopted on the Coast.

“It would be eas­ier to do busi­ness with the eastern state cap­i­tals,” she said.

Tweed Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try sec­re­tary Peter Si­bi­lant said the Twin Towns had learned to ex­ist with the two time zones.

“It’s a tricky one, but I think most peo­ple here have adapted to it,” he said.

The YouGov Galaxy poll, of 839 vot­ers weighted and pro­jected to re­flect the Queens­land pop­u­la­tion, shows most are united in op­pos­ing the idea of splitting the state into two time zones. Only 43 per cent of peo­ple statewide sup­ported the idea, with 49 per cent against.

Galaxy polls showed sup­port for day­light saving at 52 per cent in 2005, 51 per cent in 2007 and 48 per cent in 2011.

A ReachTEL sur­vey of 1177 res­i­dents north of Rock­hamp­ton, con­ducted for The Sun­day Mail in 2016, found 67.5 per cent were against day­light saving.

THE re­ac­tion to­day from our erst­while po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to news that most Queens­lan­ders want day­light saving in­tro­duced statewide will be as pre­dictable as it is non­sen­si­cal.

In lock­step, Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk and Deb Freck­ling­ton will pro­fess to be­ing ded­i­cated pa­trons of re­gional Queens­lan­ders and rush to re­ject the idea.

Kat­ter’s Aus­tralian Party mem­bers will bang on about how this is more ev­i­dence of ru­ral dwellers be­ing the for­got­ten peo­ple and proves again that the state must be torn in two.

And af­ter re­sum­ing nor­mal pro­gram­ming, each of our elected elites will be qui­etly hop­ing that their trite ar­gu­ment has suc­cess­fully put off the ques­tion of in­tro­duc­ing day­light saving for yet an­other year. Surely, enough is enough? It has been 26 years since the last ref­er­en­dum into day­light saving was run and lost, 54.5 per cent to 45.5 per cent. Some 1.8 mil­lion Queens­lan­ders were eli­gi­ble to have a say at that poll.

At Novem­ber’s state elec­tion our elec­toral roll had swelled to more than 2.8 mil­lion vot­ers.

Queens­land has not just grown in num­bers over the gen­er­a­tion since we last had a say on day­light saving.

Our econ­omy has di­ver­si­fied into an ar­ray of in­dus­tries that trade across state and na­tional bound­aries, our tourism and ser­vice sec­tors have grown in size and im­por­tance, and our pop­u­la­tion has be­come sig­nif­i­cantly more cen­tralised around the south­east cor­ner.

This last point, in par­tic­u­lar, ex­plains why sen­ti­ment to­wards day­light saving has flipped on its head in the in­ter­ven­ing decades.

Back in 1992, 12,486 of Mount Isa’s 14,138 vot­ers ticked no on their bal­lot pa­per.

In Surfers Par­adise, how­ever, 11,912 of 16,508 sup­ported the yes case.

To­day’s YouGov Galaxy Poll re­sults demon­strate that while the sen­ti­ment in th­ese two dis­tricts prob­a­bly hasn’t changed that much, the size of them has.

The poll shows that, over­all, 55 per cent of Queens­lan­ders want to wind their clocks for­ward an hour dur­ing the sum­mer months com­pared to 41 per cent against. The re­main­der was un­com­mit­ted. In the south­east cor­ner, the sup­port fig­ure rises to 66 per cent, while in the re­gions the num­ber of vot­ers against is roughly the same at 62 per cent.

It is per­fectly un­der­stand­able that peo­ple in ar­eas such as Mount Isa don’t want day­light saving.

That’s be­cause they ef­fec­tively have it al­ready.

In the sum­mer months the sun doesn’t set in the iconic Queens­land min­ing town un­til around 8pm.

While south­ern states that adopted day­light saving long ago poke fun at Queens­lan­ders over faded drapes and con­fused cows, those in re­gional ar­eas do have a le­git­i­mate rea­son to op­pose the change.

How­ever, the ques­tion has now be­come why does the vast ma­jor­ity of Queens­land have to forgo the ad­van­tages to please the rel­a­tive few?

Ob­sta­cles that inevitably get put for­ward, such as chil­dren’s bed­time and the school start time, can and should be over­come.

The ad­van­tages of day­light saving are far greater than just al fresco din­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

A 2013 Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try Queens­land study found the state’s econ­omy was los­ing an es­ti­mated $4 bil­lion a year by fail­ing to syn­chro­nise our watches with the rest of the eastern seaboard.

That fig­ure would have grown con­sid­er­ably since.

There are enor­mous ad­van­tages for our tourism sec­tor to be in the same time zone as Syd­ney and Mel­bourne as well as great ben­e­fits for busi­nesses that trade in­ter­state.

And let’s face it, there is also a stigma at­tached to Queens­lan­ders’ re­luc­tance to shift, a sneer­ing observation that we have not fully shed the back­ward as­pects of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era.

The ma­jor­ity of Queens­land has spo­ken.

Our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers must re­alise that it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore an­other ref­er­en­dum on day­light saving is held in this state.

Pic­tures: Nigel Hal­lett, Luke Mars­den

NO KID­DING: Cameron, 4, and Emily Mor­ton, 7, from Birdsville find it hard to rise early. Left: Bil­lie Berg, 5, and sis­ter Mila, 7, en­joy a sun­rise surf near the NSW bor­der.

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