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Western Australia says No to DST

Most Western Australians voted “NO” to daylight saving time (DST), following from the results of the state’s daylight saving referendum on Saturday, May 16, 2009.

Vote for NO

Western Australia says No to DST

©iStockphoto.com/Tom Gufler

The state will continue to go without DST. Various news sources announced on Sunday morning, May 17, 2009, that with most votes counted already, more than 56 percent of voters rejected DST.

No to Daylight Saving Time

More than half of the voters in Western Australia rejected daylight saving time at the referendum on Saturday, May 16, 2009. When polls closed with more than 70 percent of the vote counted, more than 55 percent of voters said "No" compared to about 44 percent of "Yes" votes. More than 1.3 million West Australians casted their votes.

More voters rejected DST in this referendum compared with the last one on the issue in 1992. Western Australia's Premier Colin Barnett announced to the public that the results were clear, indicating that most Western Australians did not like daylight saving time. He earlier admitted to voting “Yes” on the issue.

Referendum Question

Western Australia’s Premier Colin Barnett recently criticized the wording of the question that was put at the May 16 referendum. He said it was poorly drafted and believed it would have made more sense if people were asked if they liked DST and were given an option regarding the timeframe it occurred. The official question that people were asked at the referendum was:

“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?”

Voters were required to write the word "YES" in the box provided on the ballot paper if they agreed with the referendum question or "NO" if they did not agree with the referendum question. Although the results so far are indicative, the final declaration of results are expected to occur by May 21, 2009, which is when the Electoral Commission must receive postal votes before 9am that day. The Electoral Commissioner must return the writs on June 19, 2009.

Arguments For and Against DST

Western Australians voted either for or against daylight saving time at the May 16 referendum. The referendum’s date was announced on January 27, 2009, so people had time to think about how they would vote. The referendum followed from a three-year daylight saving trial. Those who voted “Yes” tended to vote for either more family time in the evening, for a more active and leisurely lifestyle, or to support small business and the jobs they create.

Many people who voted “No” felt DST was not relevant to the northern parts of Western Australia – that it was not appropriate for their latitude. Others voted against DST because they believed it would steal the best hours for beach use or exercise in the summer, which was before work. There were also those who believed that DST would increase electricity consumption and would therefore be detrimental to the environment.

Time Zones

Australian Western Standard Time (AWST), which is eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC +8 hours, applies to Western Australia. During the daylight saving trial, AWST became Australian Western Daylight Time (AWDT) and clocks were advanced to UTC +9 hours. However, most people voted against DST and it is unlikely that the state will revisit the possibility of bringing back DST again in the near future.