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Western Australians To Vote On Daylight Saving

Western Australians will vote on the future of the state’s daylight saving time on May 16, 2009, as its three-year daylight saving trial period comes to an end.

Illustration image

The three-year daylight saving trial affects not just the city but also the rural regions of Western Australia.

©iStockphoto.com/Tim Starkey

Western Australia’s Premier Colin Barnett said a simple yes or no vote would end the long running debate once and for all.

Referendum Confirmed

On January 27, 2009, Mr Barnett announced the referendum’s date so people currently undecided could use the remainder of the state’s daylight saving trial to decide if it should remain a permanent fixture on the state calendar.

Western Australia observed three daylight saving trial periods since 2006 with the current trial due to end on Sunday, March 29 in 2009. Electoral Affairs Minister Norman Moore said voting in the May 16 referendum was compulsory and everyone must vote on the following question:

“Are you in favour of daylight saving being introduced in Western Australia by standard time in the State being advanced one hour from the last Sunday in October 2009 until the last Sunday in March 2010 and in similar fashion for each following year?” (quoted material in its original form)

Mr Moore said Western Australians voted on daylight saving three times in the past 17 years, each time resulting in a “no” vote. “The last referendum held in 1992 saw the matter defeated by 53.1 percent of the electorate,” he said.

Daylight Saving Trial

Western Australia, under the daylight saving trial, is among some states and one territory in Australia that observe daylight saving time in the southern hemisphere’s summer months. The state’s daylight saving schedule began at 2am on the last Sunday in October (October 26) in 2008, when the clocks moved one hour forward to Australian Western Daylight Time (AWDT).

The clocks will revert from 3am to 2am, bringing it back to Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) on the last Sunday in March (March 29) in 2009. The previous state government planned for a referendum after this trial, where people will vote either for or against daylight saving time. The referendum was scheduled for a date between May 10 and September 13 in 2009.

Western Australia’s Trial Controversy

The state government introduced the daylight saving trial when it was led by former premier Alan Carpenter, of Western Australia’s Labor Party, which was in power prior to the state election on September 6, 2008.

Western Australia saw a change of government in late 2008 but this did not affect the three-year daylight saving trial period. The state’s National Party admitted that it was too late to abolish the trial despite calls to get rid of it from members who are now part of state government. Many members of the National and Liberal parties have campaigned to abolish daylight saving time prior to the election

Prior Campaigns Against Daylight Saving Time

In March 2008 the National Party, which is now in government with the Liberal Party in Western Australia, released an advertisement encouraging people to support the abolition of daylight saving time.

The advertisement featured Terry Waldron, the National Party of Western Australia’s deputy leader, telling viewers how the party could help get rid of daylight saving in the state if it gained the balance of power in Western Australia’s parliament. “If the Nationals win the balance of power at the next state election, we can call the shots and get rid of daylight saving,” he said in the advertisement. Plans to get rid of daylight saving time have been supported by other politicians, including Anthony Fels, a Family First member of the state’s legislative council.