‘Dark ages’: Brisbane lord mayor pushes for Queensland to adopt daylight savings

<span>Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP</span>
Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP

In Hervey Bay, Paul unwittingly switched on Sunday night’s NRL grand final 60 minutes after kick-off. The game he was watching had a half to go but the result had already been decided.

Paul was among those suffering after Queensland’s reluctance to join much of the country in winding clocks forward an hour for the annual introduction of daylight savings.

But the perennial debate has taken a turn, with Brisbane’s lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, calling for a daylight savings trial, revisiting an issue he championed back in February on the 30th anniversary of the state’s failed referendum on making the change.

It is a divisive issue which largely splits Queenslanders along geographic lines. Generally, rural and regional communities back the status quo that gives them light for early morning tasks and minimises work in the heat of the afternoon. But many in the south-east would relish extra sunlit evenings and find it easier to align with colleagues working in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Alongside jokes around confused cows and hungry dogs, proponents for and against a change make scientific claims to back to their arguments, citing impacts on circadian rhythms, skin cancer rates and even road tolls for native wildlife.

But on Sunday, Schrinner gathered an assortment of Brisbane’s business and cultural figures to made an economic pitch for change.

The mayor claimed not having daylight savings was costing Queenslanders $4bn in lost productivity every year, adding it would “deliver a bonanza for local businesses”.

Related: Should we abolish daylight saving time – or apply it across Australia?

Without daylight savings, first light in Queensland can occur as early as 4.15am during the summer months.

“Who is spending money at the moment at 4.45am, not many people,” Schrinner said.

“If you shifted that opportunity to the evening, you will get massive lifestyle and economic benefits. We’re letting good daylight hours go to waste.”

Queenslanders voted against permanently introducing daylight savings after a three-year trial back in 1992 – 54.5% voted against daylight savings and 45.5% voted in favour.

But Schrinner said most people under the age of 48 and anyone who moved to the state in the last 30 years hasn’t had a say on adjusting time zones.

It is not an argument that may win him many friends in the north or west of the state, where there is less variation in daylight hours as seasons change in the tropics. But for people like Loganlea’s Brendon Woolf, it is a no-brainer.

Woolf works remotely for a Melbourne-based company that helps NDIS participants look for specialist disability accommodation.

He said the trend towards working from home and the fact that many were working for or with businesses in the southern states made it unnecessarily difficult to keep track of meetings.

“Queensland needs to come out of the dark ages,” he said.

“Those old arguments about cows won’t know what time milking is are very ‘70s or ‘80s kind of attitudes. We’re in the 21st century now, it’s time we moved forward.”