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Confusion over Daylight Saving Time in Australia and New Zealand

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Published 28-Mar-2008

Confusion over Daylight Saving Time in Australia and New Zealand

The daylight saving extension has confused many Australians and New Zealanders who rely on time accuracy.

©iStockphoto.com/Luca di Filippo

Many Australians and New Zealanders will wait until April 6, 2008, to wind their clocks back due to a daylight saving schedule extension. However, this extension does not apply to states including Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Mixed Daylight Saving Schedule

From March 30, 2008, to April 6, 2008, Western Australia will be three hours behind Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, and 2.5 hours behind South Australia. This is due to these states concluding daylight saving one week after Western Australia. While the above-mentioned states have extended their daylight saving time to finish on April 6, 2008, Western Australia still maintains its daylight saving end date for March 30, 2008.

New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory have synchronized their times to minimize disruptions regarding business, communication and transportation. On April 6, 2008, they will turn their clocks back from 3am to 2am in their local time zones. The states of Queensland and the Northern Territory do not observe daylight saving time.

In New Zealand, daylight saving also ends on April 6, 2008, when clocks are put back one hour from 3am to 2am. Daylight saving time begins again on September 28, 2008, when clocks go forward one hour from 2am to 3am in their local time zones.

New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs Rick Barker said the decision to extend daylight saving meant people would have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings from late September to early April to enjoy the outdoors. The decision builds upon the extra half an hour already built into New Zealand's time throughout the year

Disruption and Chaos

According to one of Australia’s major newspapers TheSydney Morning Herald, the decision to extend daylight saving in south-eastern Australia could create a mini-Y2K by putting the internal clocks on computers, smartphones and corporate servers out of sync.  The change was intended to harmonize daylight saving dates across the country. This benefits the environment by reducing evening electricity use.

Many electronic devices with internal clocks are set to adjust automatically for daylight saving but, as a result of the recent date changes, the adjustments this year will be incorrect. The fallout for regular consumers could include missed meetings or appointments, but corporations face bigger headaches as their internal servers, fleets of BlackBerry devices and automated systems such as payroll, stock trading and manufacturing continue to run under the old daylight saving regime. Clocks must therefore be adjusted manually or via software updates from the device makers.

A similar issue occurred in the US last year when daylight saving began three weeks earlier and ended a week later. At the time, The New York Times reported it would cost public companies $US350 million to make computer fixes to deal with the changes. Microsoft issued an advisory to users of its Windows, Outlook and Windows Mobile products recommending they download an update from www.microsoft.com.au that will synchronize computer clocks with the daylight saving changes.

Furthermore, a poll by AdelaideNow found that confusion over the end of daylight saving could mean up to one in four South Australians could be late for work on Monday, March 31, 2008. While the summer time period has traditionally ended on the last weekend of March, clocks this year will not go back an hour until next weekend, the first weekend of April. AdelaideNow asked readers to help us find out if this could cause a problem, and the results have been startling.  By 4pm on the day of the poll, 4467 people had taken part, but only 1696 of those, or 37 percent, were aware of the correct date. A total of 1101 readers, or 24 per cent, thought the change was this weekend and a further 1670 readers, or roughly 37 percent, said they did not know when the change would be.

According to TheDaily Post in New Zealand, Telecom New Zealand's 0800 talking clock service was advising callers during the weekend that daylight saving had ended. The service said people should put their clocks back an hour at 3am on Sunday morning to 2am, but by about 9.50am Sunday the service had been fixed. Rotorua information technology (IT) consultant Stephen Post said he was also unaware that daylight saving was due to end on the first Sunday in April.

Western Australian Daylight Saving Trial

Western Australia began a three year trial of daylight saving in December 2006. Daylight saving was introduced in Western Australia for a three-year trial period starting December 2006. The three-year trial gives Western Australians an opportunity to “try before they buy”. A referendum will be held in 2009 to decide whether it should become permanent.

In 2008 daylight saving begins at 2am Western Standard Time on the last Sunday in October, and end at 2am Western Standard Time (3am summer time) on the last Sunday in March the following year. This means that WA businesses will no longer be separated from their eastern states counterparts by an additional hour during summer. From 6 April, 2008, Western Australia will revert to being two hours behind Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, and 1.5 hours behind South Australia.

Brief History of Australia DST

Daylight saving time has been implemented within Australia in various forms since the early 1900s. Since it began, the times at which weather observations were made by the Bureau of Meteorology during the period of daylight saving time also underwent a number of changes in practice. In different years an observation may have been made based either on local clock time, or according to local standard time ignoring daylight saving time. The impact of these changes is probably most significant on the nominal 9am data, particularly temperature and humidity observations.

Queensland used to observe daylight saving time until 1992. Queensland does not follow the other states and the Australian Capital Territory when they move one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time each summer. Some say that this causes immense confusion for business, industry, the electronic media, border residents, airline travelers and the broader community. To this day, there is still debate over whether daylight saving time should be re-introduced in Queensland.

Brief History of New Zealand's Time

According to New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to officially adopt a nationally observed standard time. New Zealand Mean Time, adopted in November 1868, was set at 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich Mean Time was established by British Railways in the 1840s but was not made Great Britain's standard time until 1880. In 1941, due to emergency regulations during World War II, clocks were advanced half an hour in New Zealand. This advance was made permanent by the Standard Time Act 1945. The Act provided that New Zealand Standard Time was set 12 hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

In the late 1940s the development of the first atomic clock was announced and several laboratories began atomic time scales. A new time scale based on the readings of atomic clocks, known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), was adopted internationally in 1972. "New Zealand Standard Time" is currently defined in the Time Act 1974 as meaning 12 hours in advance of UTC. The time for the Chatham Islands was set 45 minutes in advance of New Zealand Standard Time. New Zealand’s Minister of Internal Affairs Hon Rick Barker announced in 2007 that the period of daylight saving would be extended to run from the last Sunday in September until the first Sunday in April.

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