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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The 2012 Vision: Part 1, Daylight Saving

(Rewritten on 5/4/12)
The official hashtag is #2012visionDST
Welcome to the first installment, of a series entitled the "2012 Vision", celebrating the 20th anniversary of QLD's sole referendum on daylight saving, a subject that this site holds dear to the heart.
Daylight Saving... turning the clock back.
Queensland had a brief flirtation with the concept in the 1970's, but was rejected by Joh, and it wasn't until the tail end of the Joh era, that it was revisited. Faced with falling opinion polls, and bad by-election results, then QLD premier Mike Ahern, put a daylight saving trial bill to parliament, in mid 1989, and passed it, with a trial to start in late 1989, overseen by a specially appointed taskforce, whose responsibility was to oversee the DST trial, with a report handed over in 1990. However it was a different premier who would accept the DST task force's report.


Goss, leading into the referendum.
Wayne Goss swept to power, promising change. While things like the Fitzgerald recommendations and poker machine legalization went off well, the DST taskforce reported back in early 1990, and gave three recommendations: extend the DST trial to 1992, put the question to the people after the extension, and to look at a zonal system moving forward. 1991 saw the last electoral gasp of the gerrymander, with the first state referendum held in QLD since 1923, being held on the same day as local government elections, on the question of longer terms for politicians. Queensland also enjoyed during this period, live content from outside QLD, such as current affairs programs and the federal Labor leadership challenge by Paul Keating in late 1991. As 1991 closed, the gerrymander was gone, and there was a major event coming...


Feburary 22 1992: Daylight Saving referendum.
TV news bulletins in Feburary 1992 were dominated by two things: the introduction of poker machines to Queensland, and the daylight saving referendum. TV advertising was the same, full of ads for either the yes or no case. After three years of trial, it had come down to nine hours of polling, and when the news came through, the "no" vote won, 54% to 45%, with the "yes" vote strongest in the SE corner, and the "no" vote strongest outside SEQ. Many people thought that the issue was put to bed, with the referendum: they were wrong, however there were instances where the QLD "problem" would have a impact. A couple of months later, Western Australia held their third referendum in 20 years on daylight saving, also delivering a rejection to the concept. Unlike QLD, WA actually revisited a DST referendum in 2009, after a three year trial, and again the state rejected DST.


1997: ABA investigation into regional NSW operators.
In 1997, an major incident occured where two NSW regional TV operators (Prime Television and Ten Northern NSW (formerly NRTV), who had the Gold Coast in their overlap (something which was a legacy that NRTV took into aggregation) decided to base their schedules for the Gold Coast, on NSW time, instead of QLD time, which resulted in some content airing in timeslots outside those classified. After a lengthy investigation, the ABA found in early 1998, that both operators breached the classifications rules, by simply having one feed for their entire market (including the GC, with only the ads being different), during DST. Accordingly, the Gold Coast gained it's own feed for each broadcaster (something NBN did early on), which is still maintained to this day. Around this time however, the tide was changing, towards centralization of playout, in metropolitan areas, and many thought this sort of move could have indeed seen the Gold Coast problem repeated, but thankfully (due to technological changes), it hasn't been. However, the rise of the second generation QLD daylight saving supporter, happened thanks to the arrival of reality show public vote-offs.


Idol thoughts: 2003, the arrival of the summertime vote-off.
Network Ten was seen, in the early 2000's as, at the forefront, of all the latest concepts coming from overseas. Big Brother helped spark the reality TV boom, however it was Australian Idol that cemented it. The big difference Idol had compared to BB, was that it's final stages were held over the beginning of the DST period. Other programs followed that model, such as Dancing With The Stars (which often either dealt with the beginning/end of DST), So You Think You Can Dance (which always dealt with the end of DST), and The X Factor (both incarnations dealt with it, Ten's at the end of DST, and Seven's at the beginning of DST). However it was one night's voting in 2005, that suddenly flung DST into QLD living rooms. QLDer Dan England was eliminated from Australian Idol, by a small margin. Viewers thought, that if QLD were on the same timezone as Syd/Melb, Dan would have stayed on Idol. It was so controversial, it even made onto the floor of QLD Parliament, with then premier, Peter Beattie also having his say. At that stage, the largest e-petition in QLD history (to that point), was also on the daylight saving subject, and suddenly, what had laid dormant for over ten years, was breathing, in a new generation's eyes.


The DST regeneration:
The new wave of daylight saving supporters that emerged in the mid 2000's, had access to media that the 1992 breed would have wanted, and used. The internet in 1992 was slow, and only the few had access: now, it was creeping into most homes, and was expanding, into a major plank of people's lives, breaking down the tyranny of distance. Social media, only a recent innovation, would become the great leveller, as events that aired in Sydney/Melbourne, could now be seen in real-time in QLD, even if it meant spoiling programs about to air. Even the humble mobile phone, once large, clunky, and analogue, had evolved into a beast that could do many things at once, including surfing the internet, while shrinking in size. It took until the 2009 election, when a bunch of QLD DST supporters banded together and launched their own political party. DS4SEQ, didn't fare well, but they kept the pressure up, including a bill put into parliament, by independent Peter Wellington, for a referendum, in 2011. Both the LNP and ALP decided to vote against the bill, rejecting it. This site has been supporting the concept, since 2008, when we introduced our yearly DST guides, along with expanding to our sister site for the entire run of DST 2011/12, a weekly update pattern: greatly expanding our coverage, and keeping the issue at the forefront leading into the 2012 election. However, as long as QLD sees NYE events from the southern states on delay every year, QLD will have a daylight saving issue, as it holding Queensland back from it's true potential as a state, and is holding back anything that has to rely on a connection to southern states, whether it is a business, or a television program. This change needs to be done by someone who can see DST as part of the greater 21st century plan for QLD, not someone stuck in the past.


Epilogue 14/4/12:
It has now been three weeks since Campbell Newman was elected as premier, on a platform of change. That platform didn't include daylight saving, and he tried to shoot down the issue upon his election. The same thing happened with the decimated QLD Labor Party, whose new leader towed the same line that was towed when Wellington's bill was introduced into parliament nearly 12 months ago. After a recent visit to a city in another "Sunshine State", Miami in Florida, and experienced first hand, the benefits of DST for a region that is closer to the equator and is much more densely populated than SEQ. Surely if a US state like Florida, who built their state's image around tourism, can have daylight saving, why can't Queensland, whose tourism industry can make major gains with the extra hour of sunlight. However there is another battlefront looming. The upcoming South Brisbane byelection, and unlike the QLD state election, DS4SEQ is putting a candidate up. Surely this will be a wakeup call to Newman, especially if there are voters wanting change... in time for summer 2012/13.

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