Australia, Bob Hawke, Daylight Saving Act 1989, Daylight Saving Bill, Daylight Saving Task Force, daylight saving time, Fitzgerald Inquiry, Gold Coast, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Labor Party, Liberal Party, Mike Ahern, National Party, Queensland, Queensland Parliament, Robert Sparkes, Russell Cooper, Sallyanne Atkinson, Wayne Goss
Daylight saving time in Australia ends on 1 April. It has always been controversial in Queensland. The state has only had daylight saving in four years, 1971-72 and 1989-90 to 1991-92. Here’s an excerpt from my 400 page ebook on the history of daylight saving time around the world, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, on the lead-up to the reintroduction of daylight saving in 1989 …
In 1987, Labor prime minister Bob Hawke told a conference why he thought there would never be daylight saving in Queensland under [Joh] Bjelke-Petersen who was still premier: “That’s because he reckons the sun shines out of his arse and he’s not getting out of bed an hour earlier for anyone.” [Herald Sun, Melbourne, 6 Oct 2007]
On 1 December of that year, the premier resigned and quit politics following loss of support within his party and amid allegations of widespread corruption within the government brought to light by the Fitzgerald Inquiry. The new premier was the National Party’s Mike Ahern.
Momentum for daylight saving built in 1988. The Liberal Party, which hadn’t been part of government since 1983 when the National Party ended the coalition, led the charge, hoping to gain seats in the state election due in late 1989. The push intensified during that year with the Liberal and Labor parties and the media all supporting daylight saving. The National Party still rejected it and on 9 August, the party’s state president Robert Sparkes told Ahern to abide by the position, which he did until 21 August.
On that day, he went against party policy and introduced a Daylight Saving Bill into the Queensland Parliament, announcing a trial for the summer of 1989-90. Pressure from business and Brisbane Liberal mayor Sallyanne Atkinson had led to the backdown. Also, a government survey found that 71 per cent of residents wanted daylight saving although the proportion was much lower outside the south-east. Further, an election was due in a few months and the National Party was keen to hold onto its six seats on the Gold Coast, where support for a time change was high. Twenty minutes after the announcement, the whole state government switchboard became jammed with calls opposing the plan. There were sackloads of mail complaining about the decision for months and death threats against public servants.
Daylight saving was probably the main issue prompting party stalwart Russell Cooper to challenge Ahern for leadership. Ahern survived a spill motion by 26 votes to 21 on 29 August. The Daylight Saving Act 1989 covering just 1989-90 (29 October to 4 March) was passed by parliament on 18 September. But Cooper was voted in by government members as premier a week later.
A possible backlash by the state’s north and west over daylight saving prompted the government to set up a Daylight Saving Task Force to receive submissions before and during the time change, to ensure no part of the community was disadvantaged by it, and to monitor the implementation of the trial. The task force was to report the results of the test by 30 April 1990 and recommend whether Queensland should have daylight saving in future years. By the time the task force released its 63 page “Report of the Trial of Daylight Saving” on 27 April, Queensland had a new government, the Labor Party having been swept to power on 7 December 1989 with Wayne Goss as premier. The National Party had been brought undone mainly by the findings of the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987-1989) into government corruption rather than daylight saving or any other issue.
(end of excerpt)
My ebook, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, can be obtained from Amazon, Kobo Books and Apple.