WA daylight saving referendum: May 16

Here’s a thread for discussion of Saturday’s daylight saving referendum, which I have generally deemed to be outside my psephological ambit. Antony Green has concluded otherwise, providing a plethora of information over at ABC Elections. As you can see at Antony’s place, this is the fourth opportunity WA voters have been given to provide the desired answer. Each time it has been preceded by a trial period, which has been three years this time and one year on the previous occasions. The no vote won the day by 53.7 per cent to 46.3 per cent in 1975; 54.4 per cent to 45.7 per cent in 1984; and 53.1 per cent to 46.9 per cent in 1992. Two Westpoll surveys with samples of 400 suggest nothing much has changed, bearing in mind the high margin of error – on April 11 the result was 51-47, while on March 7 it was 57-42.

Tonight’s ABC TV news reported that ticks will be admitted as formal “yes” votes but crosses will be counted as informal, which hardly seems fair. The proper way of voting is to write “yes” or “no” in the box provided. The question posed on the ballot paper will read: “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?”

UPDATE: Jacob in comments reports Westpoll has the no vote at 53 per cent.

UPDATE 2: And the yes vote is 44 per cent.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

85 comments on “WA daylight saving referendum: May 16”

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  1. What we really need in that referendum is a follow-up question, “Do you want us to stop having referendums on this issue? Yes/No.” So sick to death of the pro-DST lobby arranging referendum after referendum when they don’t get the answer they want.

  2. Quick question from an outsider (SA) – what are the politics of this? ALP vs Lib/Nat? ANyone got a run down on this?

  3. The Nationals being the rednecks they are, are against it.

    There are a hand full of Labor and Liberal MP’s that are against it too. There is no Labor vs Liberal thing in this though.

    The city will decided the outcome, country WA will once again vote strongly no. In 1992 it was 70%, the city was 52.9%.

    There has been a massive increase in city electors compared to country electors since the 1992 poll. For a statewide yes victory (assuming the country vote stays around 70% no), I have estimated the city needs between 57% to 58% to get the yes vote accross the line. There was no “yes” campaign in 1992. Will be very different this time, with the Yes campain trying to get as many as the booths manned as possible to hand out YES how to vote cards.

    Will this be enough? Probably not, at this stage I would bet that the No vote will just win.

  4. Both sides love it, except for the country MPs – it’s their constituents who are split down the middle. It was put into parliament by Matt Birney (Lib leader at the time I think) and John D’Orazio (Labor member for Morley, then kicked out of the party etc etc), and it flew through quicker than anything and suddenly we had another trial nobody asked for. Democracy at work, eh…

  5. The ticks and crosses rule has applied at all WA referendums since the Referendums Act was passed in 1983. All referendums have specified writing Yes or No in the box as the form of voting, but the Referendum Act over-rides this and states that if this method is not used but a voter’s intent is clear and unambiguous, it can count.

    Past practice in WA referendums and Federal referendums is that a tick is in common use to indicate assent, but a cross is generally only clearly understood as objection when used in conjunction with ticks. Crosses are so commonly used in forms to indicate selecting an option, that you don’t know if a cross is used on a referendum ballot paper to indicate selection of the question or objection to the question. A single tick to the question clearly looks like assent, but what is a single cross?

    It is all explained from page 162 of the report on the Trading Hours referendums in 2005, from page 162


    So for instance, writing ‘No worries’ is informal as its intent is ambiguous. I suspect if you wrote “Yes, but I want a shorter period” this time it would be informal as it is an ambiguous answer to the question asked.

    I suppose they could have Yes/No boxes on these ballot papers, but this creates confusion for multiple referendums. There has always been resistance to encouraging ticks and crosses at referendums as if held in cojunction with normnal elections, it induces ticks and crosses to be used on the other ballot papers. Case in point was the 1991 NSW election where a referendum that used Yes/No boxes induced informal voting rates of up to 25% in 2-candidate general election contests. Such incidents are why there is a single box in which you write Yes/No.

  6. Also, the West has been taking the same fair and balanced approach to this as it did with the last election. That, combined with people calling me a vampire, dinosaur, anti-progress and plenty of other things, has irritated me about the whole debate.

  7. [Also, the West has been taking the same fair and balanced approach to this as it did with the last election. That, combined with people calling me a vampire, dinosaur, anti-progress and plenty of other things, has irritated me about the whole debate.]

    Aided and abetted by The Sunday Times, Ch 7, in particular Today tonight and of course 6PR.

  8. I should have said that the judgments on ticks and crosses is based on legal advice. There is case law on the use of ticks and crosses on documents and forms and this is used as the basis for determination of clear intent. Ticks and crosses could be specifically made invalid if the Referendums Act was altered.

    In the case of the 1991 NSW election, the formality rules for the Legislative Assembly were changed ahead of the 1991 election specifically to disallow ticks and crosses as valid votes under optional preferential voting. Ticks and crosses were allowed for the Leg Council, but in a very poor bit of planning, or perhaps deliberately if you believe the conspiracy theories about why the Liberals changed the law, they held referendum in conjunction with the 1991 election where the method of voting was to put a cross in the Yes or No box.

    Oh dear. The informal vote tripled to 9.3%, and skyrocketed in the four seats with only 2 candidates, reaching 25% in Londonderry, and passing 33% in some booths in Bankstown.

  9. Sorry Frank Beaumont, Maumil have been singing the praises of the no vote loud and long,I dont agree I like DLS,my girlfriend goes to work at 5 30am its Dark in summer and we enjoy the extended evenings.
    Beaumont and Co are Luddites to me

  10. on the waec cheatsheat for pollworkers there are 7 formal ways to vote yes, 5 to vote no.

    also yes and no in any other language is informal.

    anyway the no vote will win in the same manner as before. Small majority yes in city, huge majority no elsewhere.

  11. John,

    I HATE Daylight savings with a passion – especially when it’s 40 degrees at 3pm in the afternoon and with NO seabreeze in sight. Oh and living on a vineyard – working hours are dawn till dusk and a 1pm lunch break happens at 2pm and you don’t eat till 8-830pm at night either.

  12. I support DLS strongly!
    I work early which is great.. i get one less hour of work in the sun. I also get the opportunity to enjoy the beach from about 5pm onwards when the seabreeze dies down. I spend more time outside and less in front of the tv because im more motivated to be outdoors playing sports, chilling by water and so forth. We live in a great state that offers us amazing lifestyle choices in the summer time, and i believe DLS helps us to make the most of what we have!

    One thing i would like to see on the vote card is a ‘would you support daylight savings if we started it mid november and ended it mid february’. I think there is a very good chance that if we were voting for an option like that you would get more ‘Yes’ votes mainly seeing that its around the end of february/early march when people really start to actually notice DLS and whinge about it. These dates would also clash much less with the school terms.

    I’ll be voting YES!

  13. I have played a small part on the yes campaign. I really don’t care either way but Perth really needs to get out of the country town ‘say no’ mentality and voting in DLS is a firm step in that direction. The west has gone LCD on this issue (as usual) and has featured substantially more ‘no’ cases. Just read their letters section.

    Most people i speak to love daylight savings. I believe that we will get over the line this time. The ‘no’ case have continued to come up with bullshit stats and research that would make westpoll look accuate and the public don’t seem to be buying it. The yes campaign has been kept simple with the tangible lifestyle benefits of DLS bieng sold as the main reason to vote yes.

    Frank- if Adelaide can support DLS we can too. No excuses given we’ve got the same climate and the coast is far more accessible in Perth than Adelaide. (SNIP: I realise you were being facetious, but I can’t on principle allow this word through – The Management.)

  14. Here’s a funny thing. I’d vote yes to daylight saving, if it was any time but summer. When the sun already goes down later than it does any other time of year, and it’s pushing 40C in Perth and 45C the other side of the Darling Scarp, DLS is no fun. This time of year, though, it’d be excellent – I’ve been really enjoying the extended Indian summer this year. (Climate change seems to mean it’s mid 20’s and sunny well into May… keep burning that coal, folks.) Same goes for spring, and in winter it’d be nice not to be pitch black by 6pm.

    [ Perth really needs to get out of the country town ’say no’ mentality and voting in DLS is a firm step in that direction. ]

    Common misconception, that. It’s true about the country town thing, but it doesn’t mean we need to vote “YES!” to the first referendum that happens to come along, just to prove we’re something we’re really still not. The summer may have extra sunshine, but that means I can see Hay St mall on a Saturday empty for three hours before sunset instead of two. How that’s progressive eludes me. No to DLS, and Yes to the trading hours referendum back in 2005, and we’d have an extra hour onto the night, rather than taking one away. Pubs still shut by 10pm on a Sunday, for god’s sake. (Only a couple of hours after sunset, which makes gigs then look quite strange.) If you want to drag sleepy little boomtown into the 21st century, there’s more substantive ways to do that than fiddling with the clocks and annoying people who prefer nights.

    And that’s probably my last well spoken post on the subject. Future posts will involve growling at people. 😉

  15. [
    Bright Ideas
    Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink
    Quick question from an outsider (SA) – what are the politics of this? ALP vs Lib/Nat? ANyone got a run down on this?

    Bright Ideas, seems not to be (to me). An informal canvassing of people I know shows both Labor friends opposing it and Liberal friends supporting it. In general, though, I’ve always understood it (before living here) as simply being a “more conservative” mind set out here in WA (have just lived here since January). What that tells me is that my Labor friends { 😀 } are more conservative than I am 😉 .

  16. Frank,

    (honestly now)
    especially when it’s 40 degrees at 3pm in the afternoon and with NO seabreeze in sight.

    without taking a stance on the issue and looking just at the statement above —>

    I don’t think it matters nor is it a game breaker when the temp is 40 at 2pm or 40 at 3pm. Hot is hot no matter if the time is 60 mins different or not 😉 ……

    off to the craft show at the exhibition center, back here at the pc later ….

    Cheers 🙂

  17. The West Australia – Wednesday May 13

    Page 23 features six letters to the editor – 5 strong cases in support of no, and 1 vague and unclear article in support of yes. The heading to the page is ‘Don’t let the lazy YES voters have their way by default’. Once again this shows clearly how bias our only state newspaper really is. Not one of the articles mentions the controversy surrounding the ‘Tick Cross’ case. This means that the editor has essentially added a 6th opinion supporting the ‘No’ vote.

    Enough said.

  18. I can’t think of any rational reason to support daylight saving in Perth, unless you’re a stockbroker. If you’re really that keen to go swimming at twilight, then you also deserve to be eaten by sharks during their feeding time. By far the most enjoyable thing you can do on a balmy Perth summer evening with your clothes on is watch an open air movie. You can’t do that until after sunset.

    There’s also a rational reason for anyone, even supporters of daylight saving, to vote “no”. The reason lies in the question itself. It doesn’t simply ask you “do you support daylight saving?” What it actually asks is ‘do you want it between late Oct and late March?’

    Since the all but universal consensus, even amongst the motley crew of failed politicians advocating a “yes” vote in the referendum, is that daylight saving in March is a ridiculous idea in WA (because it means that many people have to go to work in the dark), the only rational answer to the actual question is “no”.

    Finally, when the failed politicians tell you that there’s post referendum room for manouevre on the March issue, just remember this: not only are most of these failed politicians not even in Parliament any more, but there’s a good reason why they’re not, and that is that they’re completely out of touch with reality.

  19. Bird of Paradox, both Birney and D’Orazio were backbenchers at the time.

    Also, I agree with your proposition that daylight saving be for another time. Personally, I think it makes more sense to have it in winter, when it makes little to no difference in terms of the light available for very-early risers but could be the difference between getting home in daylight or night.

    That said, until WA has stronger business ties with SE Asia than it does with the East Coast, daylight savings is pretty important for both business and government, in particular public servants who work for Commonwealth departmental offices in WA.

    Also, I note that hoteliers are opposed to daylight saving on the basis that they’re selling less grog. I would have thought that all those complaining about Australia’s booze culture would have leapt on this as strong support for a yes vote.

  20. Blue, Daylight Saving in winter? That means in early July sunrise in Perth would be 8:17am in Perth and 8:30am in Augusta.

    Grizzly, why do people in Adelaide and Melbourne cope with daylight saving in March when their sunrise is LATER than Perth in late March? If it a ridiculous idea in WA, then why in hell did they extend to April in those 2 cities?

  21. jacob 22, most of the population of South Australia lives in the city of Adelaide. Daylight saving is hugely popular with the urban population. The subject is never mentioned here. Only the shifting of CST to EST is sometimes discussed.

  22. For goodness sake the pro-business argument is really not going to work. Ordinary people don’t care about the millions being made by large corporations. They are the same people who want no restrictions to trading, including on sundays. Personally I support daylight savings due to the fact that I use the beach quite a deal on summer afternoons – it’s nice having that extra hour. But I can see how for those getting up early it would be an annoyance. It really just depends which part of the day a person uses. As to the extended trading I hope that is defeated. Even the Liberals have gone too far in allowing weekday trading to 9pm – crazy! In London the shops close at 6pm, so I think it unlikely that anyone in the country town of Perth would shop later than that. It is a joke that the so called IGA (independent grocers) is allowed to open everday of the year despite the fact it is owned by a South African businessmen. Get rid of them!

  23. [ Even the Liberals have gone too far in allowing weekday trading to 9pm – crazy! ]

    Not crazy at all. Especially in summer, why should everything close two hours before sunset? That’s madness, not being able to go shopping in the late afternoon (which is what 7pm pretty much is, or 8pm if playing by DLS rules). 9pm is hardly late. Same goes for Sunday. I’m not religious and am kinda nocturnal, so I like being able to shop at slightly odd hours (particularly to avoid the 5pm crush). One thing we’ll never have is 24 hour trading like in Melbourne, but past 6pm would be nice.

    As for IGA, I’d feel more sympathy for them if they didn’t charge outrageous prices.

  24. Oh and living on a vineyard – working hours are dawn till dusk and a 1pm lunch break happens at 2pm and you don’t eat till 8-830pm at night either.

    Frank, this is a bogus argument. If you work by the sun, what does it matter what the clock says? You could even keep all the clocks on the vineyard on standard time, if you so wished. What difference does it make?

    On the other hand, those of use who work by the clock benefit from the extra daylight.

  25. William,

    why have you “generally deemed [this] to be outside [your] psephological ambit” and presumably this sites’ ambit? West Australians are voting and there are polls being conducted and some mild political consequences.

    On this issue, I, by the way, am like the people who choose to go to hell (over heaven) for the more interesting company.

    I want “YES” to win because I like the “YES” supporters more, even though I don’t see any great personal or societal gain. The “NO” campaign seems to have been dishonest on certain points (eg, on car accidents).

  26. [For goodness sake the pro-business argument is really not going to work. Ordinary people don’t care about the millions being made by large corporations.]

    I also referred to Commonwealth public servants.

    The suggestion that it is only ‘large corporations’ making ‘millions’ which have business dealings with the East Coast is a spurious one.

  27. Bird of Paradox:

    Yes it is crazy? London and other European cities which enjoy sunlight until ~10pm do not stay open that whole time. Presumably there is a lack of demand for shopping after around 6pm, and workers also want to relax and go home etc. I am not church-going either but I feel Sunday should really be maintained as a day of rest for most employees. I am also quite nocturnal, all the pubs, clubs and theatres are open, as for shopping I just do it on Saturday, it works for me. I don’t think 24 hr trading is all feasible, and I’ll wager that very few shops open overnight.


    Ok yes you did refer also to Cth public servants. I am not saying it is only large corporations who have business dealings over East, what I meant was that they are the ones who seem to push this point the most. They seem to have few problems trading across the USA or across Europe, despite a few hours time difference. I personally don’t think the drive for increased profit is a reason to change the clocks.

    Nevertheless I still support daylight saving for personal reasons relating to my summer afternoon activities. I am not really bothered either way though whether it goes yes or no. It just seems a waste of money having so many damn votes on the issue!

  28. When I lived in Perth, I voted YES in 2 referenda. I was young and enjoyed the extra daylight. I was also convinced by the business argument.

    I now live in Sydney and I realise now that I would vote NO if I was in Perth. Here, it really makes sense as the twilight here is real twilight. But in Perth, there is no twilight, it just gets dark quickly.

    As I have gotten older, I have enjoyed the heat less and less and now think how horrible it would be to have daylight saving and all of that late afternoon heat through January to March.

    My voting would be about what suits my lifestyle. I don’t think it is fair to say that because Sydney, London etc have daylight savings that Perth is a big country town without it. You should have what is appropriate to you.

    It is like the argument with the extended trading hours. I like the hours here in Sydney and use late night and full Sunday trading. But if I was asked in a referendum, I would vote NO as I believe that we don’t need to have businesses open all the time. Not for religious reasons, but because small business owners need time off too for a life and their families. I would think it good some businesses were open all weekend (restaurants etc – which are attuned to the weekend), but why woollies has to be open all the time, I do not know.

    I don’t ever hear anyone say that Perth is a small country town, because it does not have pokies and gambling in every venue. This is unlike Sydney. You should support a policy because it is good.

  29. If it’s true (which I don’t know) that the majority of people in Perth want daylight saving and the majority of people in WA outside Perth don’t, why not have daylight saving in Perth only and not in the rest of the State?

  30. Well, that’s the difference between Perth and Brisbane – it’s only an anaemically small majority voting yes in Perth, as opposed to a great big one in SE Qld. Last time round ‘yes’ won in in North and South Metro (upper house regions), but went down by a small margin in East Metro. I’m not sure, but I think the ‘yes’ vote goes down with distance from the coast.

    Plus, it’s a stupid idea. Perth’s on the west side of the state, so if just Perth had DLS, it would be 9.00 in Perth, 8.00 in country WA further east, 10.30 in SA and 9.30 in the NT. (Oh, and 8.45 on the Nullarbor.) Four weirdly arranged time zones for a population of about 3 million, which gets by on two in winter? Madness. 😉

  31. Pretty amused by this section of the latest WA Today report:

    [Last month, the federation stuck by a claim that daylight saving leads to more road deaths.

    An internet and poster campaign by the federation, opposing daylight saving, depicted a white cross beside a road as a car flashed by.

    The poster said the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day and time changes lead to fatigue and an increase in road accidents, based on a study by American Stanley Coren.

    But Mr Birney disputed Dr Coren’s study, saying the author of books such as Why We Love the Dogs We Do, and The Intelligence of Dogs, was not a road safety expert.]


  32. Boundary Man said:

    I now live in Sydney and I realise now that I would vote NO if I was in Perth. Here, it really makes sense as the twilight here is real twilight. But in Perth, there is no twilight, it just gets dark quickly.


    That’s bull, the amount of twlight depends on latitude, the further away from the equator you are, the more twlight you have. As Sydney is only JUST south of Perth’s latitude, twlight is almost the same.

    Perth sunset today 5:28pm, civil twlight ends 5:54pm (26 mins)
    Sydney sunset today 5:02pm, civil twlight ends 5:29pm (27 mins)


  33. Ah yes, which means that the light of the sunset ends sooner, but the residual light of the twilight in the upper atmosphere lasts for the same amount of time.


  34. It seems like PerthNow is supporting the “Yes” voters and The West Australian supporting the “No” voters.

  35. The vast majority of the “letters to the editor” that have been published by The West have been no, which is a surprise, I thought The West would been pro daylight saving.

    The current web polls are:

    The West:
    More than 8000 people have voted in an online poll run by thewest.com.au, with 52 per cent, or 4206 voters, indicating they would vote yes tomorrow, while 48 per cent, or 3877 voters, are against daylight saving.

    Perth Now:
    By midday Friday more than 50,000 votes had been recorded on the PerthNow poll, with the secure poll tipping a 53 per cent yes vote and a 44 per cent no vote. The rest undercided.


    I’ve ran a poll on my website:
    Daylight Saving in WA – How will you vote on 16th May?
    Yes – I live in Metro Perth
    47% (637)
    Yes – I live in Country WA
    4% (51)
    Yes – I live outside WA
    0% (0)
    No – I live in Metro Perth
    45% (607)
    No – I live in Country WA
    4% (52)
    No – I live outside WA
    0% (0)


    Bunbury Mail Poll
    What will you vote at the daylight saving referendum on May 16?



    Total Votes: 269

    Mandurah Mail
    THIS weekend’s referendum on daylight saving looks set to be a tight vote.

    Of 100 people polled by the Mandurah Mail this week 55 said they were voting for daylight saving while 45 said they would vote against it.


    Westpoll comes out tomorrow, I’m guessing they will have about 55% no.


    I’m still tipping a 51% no vote statewide.

  36. J-D @ 33,

    Yes, conventional wisdom says that and I think it is based upon returns at the previous times folks have voted on this. If that holds true again, we’ll have to get either more turnout in the cities or less in the country. Guess we’ll wait and see. I live in NE Perth and have already voted, did a prepoll.

  37. William, that 55% is just my guess. All I know it comes out in tomorrow’s paper. Maybe it might be 50/50, I dont know.

  38. Sorry Jacob, I meant where did you hear about the fact that there IS a Westpoll tomorrow? I’ll make an effort to get a copy in a few hours if you can confirm it’s fact rather than rumour.

  39. [Sorry Jacob, I meant where did you hear about the fact that there IS a Westpoll tomorrow? I’ll make an effort to get a copy in a few hours if you can confirm it’s fact rather than rumour.]

    It said so in Today’s West in their coverage 🙂

  40. Jacob at 36

    Thanks for the intelligent comment with the “bull”. I was just expressing my opinion about how twilight feels for me, having lived in both cities for substantial periods of time.

  41. Sorry, didn’t mean to be rude, but the facts speak for themselves. Twlight is both cities are very similar.

    New Westpoll has 53% no, up from 51% in April, and down from 57% in March. Seems to have a very high margin of error for these sort of polls.

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