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As the US pushes to make daylight saving time permanent, should Australia move in the same direction?


Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) in Eastern Australia, but there are many who would like it to be longer or permanent.

Twice a year, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and South Australia make this shift. Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are not changing times. In those states, the issue has been hotly debated for years. But what would be the benefit of making time permanent, and is it feasible?

In the United States, the drive to establish time has gained momentum, with a bipartisan bill reintroduced to the Chamber this month. The Sunshine Protection Act will ensure uniformity in setting the time, starting in November 2023. If passed, it will mean DST will be permanent across the US.

The bill passed the Senate in March 2022. It was received in the House, but Americans are divided on whether they prefer permanent daylight saving time or permanent standard time – the bill then expired and so had to be reintroduced.

The proponents argue for the biennial ritual of switching time is a health hazard leading to insomnia, mental health decline, increased risk of hospitalizations and accidents. The solution, they argue, is to to recover permanent, standard time all year round.

Would permanent time recording have benefits in Australia?

Read more: Why daylight saving time is unhealthy – explains a neurologist

Why the US is Considering Establishing a Permanent Time

One of the goals of US policy is to reduce energy consumption. However, according to the latest research, contrary to the intent of the policy,causes summer time increased demand for electricity in the US Research has also found it does not save electricity in Australia.

Overwhelmingly, recent research opposes the current situation of changing the clock twice a year. In particular, the loss of an hour of sleep in the spring has been linked to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, traffic accidents and negative mood.

In addition, with cell phones available in offices and bedrooms, the shift to daylight saving time became visible result in a dramatic increase in “cyber loafing”.

Thanks to the use of the mobile phone, research has shown that daylight saving time has led to an increase in ‘cyberloafing’.

On the Monday after the switch workers suffer more accidents at work and more serious injuries, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Mine Safety and Health Administration between 1983-2006, though there is a decrease in injuries when workers get an hour of sleep.

In a study of Australian suicide data from 1971 to 2001, researchers found an increase in male suicide rates in the weeks following the start of DST, shutting down shifts can be destabilizing for vulnerable people.

The health certificate is in fact contrary to the idea behind the current legislation and instead suggests that a permanent transition to standard time can provide the maximum health and public safety benefits.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who strongly supports the bill, told the Senate:

There is some strong science behind it that is now showing and making people aware of the harm clock switching has. I know this is not the most important issue facing America, but it is one of those issues on which there is much agreement. If we can let this pass, we won’t have to do this stupidity again. Sorry for the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.

Australian law – go to uniformity

Standard time legislation dates back to the 1890s. That is when jurisdictions enacted uniform legislation regarding standard Greenwich Mean Time. For example, Tasmania determined the time of the 150th longitude east of Greenwich and Western Australia explained the mean time of the 120th meridian as standard time. At that time, the law was consistent. This continued until the daylight saving time debate began.

Daylight Savings Time was first considered at the Premiers’ Conference in May 1915. National Daylight Savings Time was in effect in Australia during the First and Second World Wars. Tasmania and Victoria introduced daylight saving time in 1916. In Tasmania, the law was repealed by the Summer Time Repeal Act 1917 (Bag). In 1967, Tasmania re-introduced daylight saving time.

by 1990, the jurisdictions changed the dates when daylight saving time was to be introduced, and their views were not uniform.

Liberal Senator Paul Calvert described the “maze of different times” as a “buoy to the economy, and also causes work-family imbalances”.

Then Prime Minister John Howard mention“I am very sorry that we have this month where Tasmania and NSW and Victoria are in different time zones.”

As of September 1, 2005, all jurisdictions have adopted the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) standard. After long deliberation, they agreed in April 2007 on a uniform start and end date.

Queensland, WA and the NT have a set time.

South Australia became an international anomaly by having 30 minutes instead of a full hour, to reach a compromise between strong interest groups within the jurisdiction.

One of the arguments against fixation is geographical location. Tasmania has a more drastic variation in solar activity compared to Northern Territory. The scientific solution would be to arrange the time but remap the regions to the actual time zones based on the solar clock.

Where does all this leave us? While DST is not the most pressing problem facing Australia today, soon enough the scientific evidence and practical ease of fixing the time may be preferable to semi-annual shifts.

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