Tuesday June 27, 2017


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Qld, Daylight Savings Time and Cows

WTF? How Introducing Daylight Saving Into Queensland Would Effect Bovines Of The Milking Kind


With the onset of summer each year, there's a rumbling in Queensland, Australia. It hits like a cyclone. It starts in the south, travels north for weeks and seems to fizzle out with a mooing of the cows. It is summer Daylight Saving Time (DST) which is observed south of the border in New South Wales but not in Queensland.

It has been a source of great contention in the Sunshine State. A referendum was taken in Queensland in 1992 after a three year trial across the state. The question was asked "Are you in favour of daylight saving?" The result was 54.5% "no" with the strongest opposition being in the northern and western regions and the advocates being strongest in the south-east of the state. However, that did not settle the debate. The advocates looked at the results differently. In terms of statistics based on district voting, 57.3% of regions in Queensland were for it.

Since then the debate has centred around implementing DST for the South-East of Queensland with political parties such as Daylight Savings For South East Queensland being formed. The benefits include tourism, health and leisure. With different time zones between the states, there is an impact on business, particularly on the people living on the border at the twin towns, Coolangatta in Queensland and Tweed Heads in New South Wales. On the aptly named Boundary St you can place one leg in NSW, whilst the other remains an hour in the past in Queensland. (The effects of this practice to the space-time continum remain unknown). Those that travel between the states to attend appointments are frequently given as examples of the impact to business. There was even a reverse promotion this summer to encourage New South Wales not to change to DST.

In 2010, a private member's bill was introduced by independent State MP Peter Wellington to hold another referendum on the implementation of DST for South-East Queensland. The question: "Are you in favour of daylight saving being introduced into the South East Queensland daylight saving time region only, while the remainder of the State does not change?" As neither of the major political parties, The Australian Labor Party or The Liberal National Party, were in favour of DST for Queensland, it lacked any real support in parliament.

Pundits against any DST, such as Light of Day, refer to Queensland as a "non-daylight saving" state and present the case against based on Queensland being "hot, sub-tropical and nearly homogenous in its seasonal daylight pattern". Queensland is on the correct time, nothing needs to be changed.

So what do those living in the southern states make of all this? It's not time travel! It must be all the heat up there... the threat of crocs and deadly Irukandji jellyfish has driven them all to madness! Do they think an extra hour of sunlight will fade the curtains? Having been raised in NSW and now living in Queensland, I can see both sides of the argument. However, views in the south do tend to remain muddled over the Queenslander choice.

Which, of course, brings us to dairy cows. Invariably, every year, someone mentions the effects of DST on the cows. This confuses everyone living in major cities, especially those living in the south. I was raised on a farm, I'm not the world expert on the dairy industry but I'll play devil's advocate in order to explain this one. For the next couple of paragraphs, keep in mind three things here.

The first thing is that cows must be milked twice a day. It's non-negotiable. Rain, hail, shine, dark, sunny, winter, summer... the milk just keeps coming. If you're taking a holiday, someone has to fill in for you.

The second thing is the milk must be picked up and delivered to the factory within a reasonable time. For the purposes of our example, let's say that pick up time is 8am in the morning and 6pm in the afternoon at our dairy farm.

And lastly, let's say it take us four hours to get all the milking done ready for that pick-up at 8am.

So far, so good. We haven't fiddled with any clocks as yet. Some dairies may operate at different times and hours of milking may differ but this is ok for the purposes of our scenario.

Now, imagine you're a Queensland dairy farmer, you set your alarm for 4am to give yourself the four hours necessary to get the cows in, milk them and be ready for the pick-up. If you have a really good herd, they're likely to be at the dairy ready to go or at the very least on their way. If you have a good working dog, you'll find he or she will be waiting obediently at the backdoor for you to give them the round-up signal. At most you might have to go out and move a few young stragglers along on your quad-bike. In Queensland, sunrise in summer is at 4:45am, so give or take a bit of light, all of this is happening as the sun is coming up.

Now let's apply DST. The pickup is still at 8am, you need four hours to get the milking done and you roll your clock forward one hour before you go to sleep.

The alarm goes off at 4am DST. You're in the dark. With DST applied, sunrise now wont occur until a DST adjusted time of 5:45am. Effectively, you're awake an hour earlier than before, we've moved that extra hour of sunlight to the end of the day.

How does this effect the farm? Firstly, your faithful working dog is not at your backdoor, he or she is still dozing, to them, sunrise is still a while off yet. No real problem. They might be a bit confused at first but a quick whistle will no doubt get them up and going.

The cows haven't come to the dairy. So you hop on your quad-bike and head on out to the paddock to round them up. To them, you're early but they don't use watches or digital clock radios, so it's all a bit dark and confusing at first. Like most mammals (including us) cows are creatures of habit. They get used to things happening a certain parts of the day. It's not that easy to be suddenly hooked up to a machine and give milk before your udder is ready. In southern states, it may take two to four weeks for the cows to adjust completely to this sudden change but they do get there.

Too bad for Queensland cows, I hear you say, they'll get used to it.

Same situation in the afternoon, cows normally head on down to our dairy at 2pm for their afternoon milking. However, if we leave them to do that it'll be 3pm when we go to DST and our milk truck is due at 6pm DST. So, again, you must go out to round them up. The argument here by dairy farmers is that you're placing the animals under undue stress, forcing them to suddenly adjust to a new habit in a hot dairy shed under a hot Queensland summer.

All of the above happens in reverse when we come out of DST. In the morning, cows are at the dairy ready to be milked, effectively an hour early, and need to adjust back to a non-DST time zone.

So how can we fix this? Let's ask the truck driver to come an hour later at 9am DST and 7pm DST. That way cows wont be put out at all, they can continue on their normal habit.

Not only will this probably distress the truckie's schedule but it alters the supply chain all the way back through the factory and back up to the supermarket. So let's ask everyone to start work an hour later and finish an hour later. We've cracked it...

Unfortunately, not. Remember that the goal of DST is to move an hour of daylight from the start of the day to the end. If everyone is finishing work at say 6pm when they normally finish at say 5pm, it defeats the whole purpose of DST. Imagine how you'd feel if your company informed you that you were now finishing at 6pm DST instead of 5pm because of an adjustment in the supply chain. You'd be as confused as the Queensland cows.

We could apply some math to the problem. Integrate the cows slowly into DST, by adjusting them 5 mins a day for 12 days. Now, the milk truck would have to come an hour late the first day, 55 mins later the next day, 50 the day after. Within a fortnight or so all would be good but it'd probably result in chaos along the way.

In my time spent on the border at the twin towns, I've noticed people carry on operating on Queensland time. In a typically Queenslander, laid back approach, people remain indifferent to it, life rolls on, it's not a complete train wreck. Generally speaking, Queenslanders tend to get up earlier, they have their extra hour of sunlight in the morning. It's not uncommon to see folk out walking, swimming, doing yoga and attending the gym at sunrise. People still go out to dine, it just happens under different mood lighting.

If we leave the cows alone for a moment, the debate really comes back to two types of people, the night-owls and the early birds; evening people versus morning people, Queenslanders versus Walers, state against state... starting to sound familiar?  Two unique groups of people not wishing to have the lifestyle of the other imposed upon them.

Each year, between the states there is a three series rugby league contest called the State of Origin. It's been run consecutively since 1980. Perhaps it's time it was played for something more serious, winner gets to impose DST or not on both states. If that prize had been set from the start, we'd have had no argument for the last six years and we'd have given the dairy farmers a break from the rhetoric.

Personally, I do find a certain charm to the sunrise at 4:45am. I guess that makes me an early bird (or I'm just getting old and I don't need as much sleep). I'm out of suggestions. Queenslanders will not observe DST, Walers will continue to enjoy it and I guess the cows will be happy on both sides of the border. The only thing to do, down there in the twin border towns, is to quietly do nothing. Relax, act like you're in Queensland, even if your postal code says you're not.

You Tube

Watch Dan and Leon on The 7PM Project, That'll Fade the Curtains




Electoral Commission Queensland

Electoral Commission Queensland - Results of 1992 Referendum On Daylight Savings

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 Daylight Saving For South East Queensland

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 Daylight Saving for South East Queensland Referendum Bill 2010


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Queensland Referendum Bill


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