It’s not about the curtains – why the Nats want to shorten (not abolish) Daylight Savings
Today the NSW Nationals' bill to bring Daylight Savings back to pre-2007 dates (beginning on the last weekend of October, ending last Sunday in March) was introduced into the NSW Upper House.
There’s a tendency amongst the inner-city cognoscenti to go a little mad at the very mention of daylight savings, and anyone wanting to wind it back is instantly labelled a redneck and an idiot. Take Labor’s Penny Sharpe, whose tweet this afternoon all but invoked the old furphy about daylight saving fading curtains.
National Party giving notice of a bill to reduce daylight savings. Yep - this is NSW. #nswpol— Penny Sharpe (@PennySharpemlc) September 21, 2016
Of course her stab about being in NSW is a reference to not being in Queensland (the prototypical backwoods hick state for people like Penny). But what Penny doesn’t understand, or care to recognise, is that there are a number of perfectly rational arguments against daylight saving that vary according to where you live and what industry you work in.
1. Daylight savings makes less sense the further north you live
One of the main reasons that Daylight Savings Time has been rejected in Queensland (and other places such as the Northern Territory and Hawaii) is that DST was introduced to deal with the long summer daylight hours in temperate latitudes. It’s no accident that it was invented in New Zealand and first introduced permanently to Australia by the Tasmanians. In the tropics they don’t have the same disparity between summer and winter daylight hours. In Cairns, for example, the sun rises at about the same time in mid-December as it does in Sydney, despite the clocks down south having been set an hour earlier. Sunset is at a reasonable 6:30-7pm and there is no need at all for daylight savings.
2. Daylight savings makes much less sense the further west you live in your time zone
When NSW tips over to Daylight Savings the weekend after next, sunrise in the western NSW town of Wentworth will go back to 7:08 am. That’s later than the latest sunrise in Sydney for the entire year, and means that farmers and tradies start their day, and children are packed off to school in the dark. It’s no accident that the city dwellers in Perth, closer to the western edge of their time zone, support daylight savings with much less zeal than their counterparts in Sydney, which is on the eastern side of its time zone.
3. Daylight savings discriminates against people who work by the sun, not the clock.
Big business loves Daylight Savings, because it means people are out spending money, not sitting in their offices. But do you know who hates it? Farmers. And it’s not just that dairy herds have trouble adjusting. Most farmers like to use what daylight they can, which means knock-off times in summer of 8pm or even later. This puts some pretty serious limits on social life – restaurants, churches and, yes, prime-time television are all over by the time you finish work.
It’s clear as daylight that if anyone is narrow-minded in this debate it’s the Sydneysiders who can’t stretch their imagination to people living in a different location or working in a different industry than those they encounter on a day-to-day basis. And as the Party that represents farmers and those living in the north and west of the state it’s our job to push back on a system that unduly benefits Sydney over our constituents.
All we’re proposing is a reset to pre-2007 levels – a little respite in the months where Daylight Savings quite frankly means the least to Sydneysiders. It’s not a lot to ask.