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Time zone difference costing investment and jobs in Queensland

Ai Group has called for a fresh debate on daylight saving in Queensland after a new survey showed the summer time zone differences were stifling investment and jobs.

A national survey of 230 businesses by Ai Group found that an overwhelming 85% of businesses surveyed support changing Queensland's current position on daylight saving.

Almost one in ten (9 per cent) of businesses that already operated in Queensland were less likely to further invest here because of the daylight-saving differences.

A similar proportion of companies operating in Brisbane said they were less likely to employ people in their Queensland offices due to this issue.

For businesses not currently operating in Queensland, almost 17 percent were less likely to invest in the State due to time zone issues. The survey showed:

  • 72% of the business surveyed supported daylight saving being introduced across Queensland. A further 13% supported two different summer time zones within Queensland (meaning 85% in total support changing the status quo)
  • Almost one in three businesses said daylight saving had a "significant impact" on their business and most of the remaining companies reported a minor impact
  • About 31% of Brisbane businesses, and 25% outside of Brisbane, have to alter work hours for staff in due to the summer time differences

The survey, conducted after daylight saving finished in Victoria and New South Wales earlier this year, highlighted the continuous frustration for businesses working across borders.

In Queensland the "significant impact" of the time differences was felt most starkly in Brisbane (34%) compared with 12.5% reported by Queensland businesses operating outside of the capital.

In total, 72% of the business surveyed supported daylight saving being introduced in Queensland. 15% were opposed and 13% supported two different time zones in the State during summer. This suggests that a very large proportion of businesses (85%) support changes to the State's existing stance on daylight saving.

Australian Industry Group Queensland Head Shane Rodgers said the survey highlighted the need to have a fresh, mature discussion in the State on the merits of daylight saving.

"The debate up until now has tended to focus on lifestyle issues and some of the practical regional issues that emerge from turning the clock forward in summer," he said.

"With new evidence emerging of the potential extent of the economic impact on the State, it is time to take another look at this issue from an economic perspective.

"This can't just be a discussion about whether we want to shuffle some extra recreation time to the end of the day. We need to take a long, hard look at what being out of time step is doing to business costs and employment.

"Daylight saving was shut down in 1992 following a close referendum on the issue. Much has changed since that time and a whole new generation of Queenslanders has not been given a chance to have a say on the issue.

"There is now more flexibility in working hours, the internet has changed the way we work and many of the previous concerns can be mitigated through sensible compromise.

"The issue remains divisive, and certainly not everyone supports daylight saving, but we can't just keep sweeping it under the carpet because it is politically sensitive. We need to be robust enough as a state to have a proper grown-up conversation about it.

"In particular we need a greater focus on how lateral thinking and flexibility could mitigate the concerns about daylight saving in the north and west of the State," Mr Rodgers said.

For further comment:
Shane Rodgers – 0423 021 268

BACKGROUND ON DAYLIGHT SAVING IN QUEENSLAND  

  • Daylight saving was trialled in Queensland between 1989 and 1992.
  • A referendum on the issue was held in February, 1992 with 54.5% of voters opposing daylight saving continuing in the State.
  • The referendum and most surveys since suggest that daylight saving has strong support in south-east Queensland but is still opposed by large numbers elsewhere in the State, particularly in the north and west where there are few perceived advantages.
  • The 1990 Act to introduce daylight saving "provided for amelioration of the effects of daylight saving by enabling local communities to seek to change the hours of employment, trade, schooling or other matters of concern". It is not clear how much of this flexibility was enacted.
  • In 2007 the Department of Premier and Cabinet commissioned AC Nielsen to conduct research on attitudes towards daylight saving in Queensland to determine whether there had been a change in attitudes since the 1992 referendum.
  • The survey showed statewide support for daylight saving had increased to 59% in the 15 years since the referendum.
  • In that survey, seventy-two per cent businesses in south east Queensland supported daylight saving compared with 32% of businesses elsewhere in the state.
  • On the back of this survey, the then Premier Anna Bligh announced her government would not support a return to daylight saving, due to the divisive nature of the topic.
  • In 2010 Independent MP Peter Wellington introduced a Private Members Bill to Parliament proposing a split time zone for Queensland during the summer months. The Bill failed to receive support from either major party bloc.
  • A 2013 economic study, cited in The Courier-Mail, found daylight saving would have a $4.35 billion positive impact on the Queensland economy.

For further comment:
Shane Rodgers – 0423 021 268