What Queenslanders really think about daylight saving
Southeast calls for daylight saving, but they’re still dark on it up north
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.
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.