summer 2009 10 and autumn 2010

Research Paper no. 10 2009–10

Greg Baker
Statistics and Mapping Section
19 November 2009



Executive Summary

  • Australia has three standard time zones.
  • Its external territories have an additional five time zones.
  • During the summer of 2009–10 and the autumn of 2010, at any one time Australia will have five time zones and if external territories are included this increases to nine time zones.
  • Also during the summer of 2009–10 and the autumn of 2010, Australian time zones change just twice. These changes are on 4 October 2009 and 4 April 2010.



Daylight saving time in Australia has a long and chequered history.

This is largely because the responsibility for the setting of time zones has remained with state and territory authorities. Commonwealth power over weights and measures in the Constitution extends to the measurement of time, but whether it has power to legislate about time zones is not free from doubt.[1]

This turbulent history is also because the institution of daylight saving time impacts in a fundamental way on the manner in which people lead their lives. This in turn means that there are many people who feel strongly on the issue and are vocal in their praise or criticism of daylight saving time.

This paper updates a November 2008 Parliamentary Library publication on the same topic; it provides more historical detail and sets out the changes that will be in place for the summer of 2009 10 and the autumn of 2010.[2] It also provides a ready reckoner to calculate time of day in any part of Australia throughout the daylight saving period and beyond.

Time zones


World time is measured in relation to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).[3] Using UTC as local time worldwide would have the disadvantage that 12 o clock at any place on the globe would not occur at around the time the sun is at its highest point in the sky at that place.

To avoid this problem the world is divided into time zones.[4] Over the oceans, time zones are equally spaced and 15 degrees of longitude apart except for the deviations of the International Date Line. This makes 24 one-hour time zones totalling the full 360-degree circumference of the world.

Over land masses, political, administrative and geographic considerations have changed this ideal 15 degree geometry. In Australia this means that with one minor exception the borders of time zones follow state and territory boundaries.[5]


Australia has three time zones. These are called Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), and Western Standard Time (WST) which is sometimes called Western Australian Time. These zones are sometimes referred to as AEST, ACST and AWST respectively where the prefix refers to Australia. These time zones were set up by colonial legislatures in the mid to late 1890s.[6]

EST is 10 hours ahead of UTC. In winter it applies to New South Wales, except in Broken Hill[7] which is on CST; Victoria; Queensland; Tasmania; and the Australian Capital Territory. Lord Howe Island is administratively part of New South Wales, but has standard time 10 hours 30 minutes ahead of UTC.[8]

CST is 9 hours 30 minutes ahead of UTC. CST applies throughout South Australia, the Northern Territory and Broken Hill in New South Wales.[9]

WST is 8 hours ahead of UTC and applies throughout Western Australia.

External territories

Australia has other time zones that are associated with the external territories under its control. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are 6 hours and 30 minutes ahead of UTC; Christmas Island is 7 hours ahead of UTC; and Norfolk Island is 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of UTC.[10]

Australia's four Antarctic bases have their times determined more for convenience of contact with the Australian Antarctic Division[11] of the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts in Hobart than their geographic location. Mawson is 6 hours ahead of UTC; Davis is 7 hours ahead of UTC; Casey is 8 hours ahead of UTC; and Macquarie Island is 10 hours ahead of UTC.[12] The territories of Heard Island and McDonald Islands; the Coral Sea Islands; and Ashmore and Cartier Islands are usually uninhabited and do not have times set for them.

Daylight saving time

Daylight saving is the name for the process of putting clocks forward by one hour during summer and autumn to extend the hours of daylight available at the end of the normal working day. It was introduced across Australia in 1917 as a wartime fuel-saving measure, but was abandoned the same year in the face of public opposition. It was introduced across Australia again in 1942 under National Security Regulations and in the summers of 1942 43 and 1943 44. Western Australia, which had made strong representations, was exempt from daylight saving in 1943 44.[13]

There was no daylight saving time in Australia after the Second World War until Tasmania excluding King Island introduced it in 1967 68.[14] New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory adopted daylight saving time in 1971.[15]


Queensland abandoned daylight saving time in 1972, reintroduced it in 1989 and abandoned it again following a referendum in 1992. In 2006, a Queensland Parliament E‑Petition in favour of the introduction of daylight saving time was signed by 62 232 people; a parallel E‑Petition against the introduction of daylight saving time was signed by 7516 people.[16] In response to the petitions, the then acting Premier, Anna Bligh, in rejecting any change noted that she was unaware of any current workable model for state-wide daylight saving that would be supported by a majority of Queenslanders .[17] Later, then Premier Peter Beattie indicated that the Queensland government would gauge public support for a two-zone daylight saving time system for Queensland. He was reported as saying that an assessment would be made to see if people believe that the southeast corner [of Queensland] should be able to be in a separate time zone with daylight saving .[18] A further two E-Petitions were presented during 2007 and 2008; one requested a referendum to introduce daylight saving time, the other a referendum to trial daylight saving time.[19] In responding to these E-Petitions, the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, drew on the Beattie-commissioned AC Nielsen survey report and noted that ... there continues to be strong opposition to daylight saving from communities in regional and rural areas ... and ... strong opposition to the introduction of a split time zone in Queensland ... She emphatically stated that the government ... does not propose to conduct a referendum or introduce a trial to further gauge public opinion on this matter. [20]

Western Australia

Western Australia adopted daylight saving time in 1974, but abandoned it following a referendum in 1975. It then reintroduced it in 1983 84, only to abandon it again following a referendum during 1984. A further referendum in 1992 sealed the fate of daylight saving time in Western Australia until the question resurfaced during 2006.

On 24 October 2006, the Premier of Western Australia, Alan Carpenter, indicated his support for a three-year trial of daylight saving time in Western Australia beginning on the first Sunday in the 2006 07 summer, 3 December.[21] This, coupled with the decision by both sides of politics to support a free vote, led to a 37 14 vote in the Legislative Assembly in favour of the daylight saving time trial. A subsequent vote of the Legislative Council passed the trial with a vote of 21 10.[22] The Western Australian Daylight Saving Act 2006 legislated that daylight saving time in that state would begin on the last Sunday in October and would finish on the last Sunday in March; the dates of these Sundays are included in the legislation.

Following the end of the trial, a referendum on the future of daylight saving in Western Australia was held on 16 May 2009. Daylight saving time was rejected at that referendum by a margin of around 5 per cent.[23]


At the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on 14 July 2006, the representatives of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory stated that they would consider synchronising the start and end dates for daylight saving time.[24] In early 2007, the mainland jurisdictions agreed to bring forward the beginning of their daylight saving periods from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in October. These changes would bring them into line with Tasmania which starts daylight saving on that day. They also agreed to delay the end of the daylight saving period from the last Sunday in March to the first Sunday in April. Subsequently all these jurisdictions set the start date as the first Sunday in October and the end date as the first Sunday in April.[25] These dates are roughly co-incident with the spring and autumn equinoxes, when day and night are of equal length.

On 27 October 2008, the South Australian Minister for Industrial Relations, Paul Caica, invited South Australian people to comment on the extension to daylight saving time. He was reported as saying that the government of South Australia would use public feedback to decide on whether to make permanent the 2009 extension to daylight saving time.[26] The Minister later said that ... two rounds of community consultation undertaken by the State Government s SafeWork SA over the last two years, have shown broad community support for the extended period of daylight saving .[27]


As indicated in the introduction above, the issue of daylight saving time has generated heated debate over the years because it impacts in a fundamental way on the manner in which people lead their lives.

Some of the arguments that people advance in favour of daylight saving time are that it increases the opportunities for after-work leisure activities and for shopping and that it reduces overall energy consumption. Arguments against the imposition of daylight saving time include that it increases economic costs and disrupts sleep patterns, particularly of children, at the times of changeover; it has an economic cost to people providing evening entertainment; and it is disruptive of the work lives of people such as farmers whose work lives are regulated by the sun.

Because of this controversy which appears difficult to resolve by normal parliamentary means, several states have conducted referenda to determine the views of electors.[28] The following table shows results of recent daylight saving time referenda.[29]

Daylight saving referenda




For (%)

Against (%)

New South Wales










South Australia





Western Australia





Western Australia





 Western Australia





 Western Australia





Summer 2009 10 and autumn 2010

For the 2009 10 summer and the autumn of 2010, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory all have daylight saving time running from 0200 standard time Sunday 4 October 2009 (0300 daylight saving time) to 0200 standard time (0300 daylight saving time) Sunday 4 April 2009. Lord Howe Island clocks are moved forward half an hour during daylight saving time in New South Wales to make them operate on the same time as New South Wales during the summer period. Macquarie Island observes daylight saving time in line with Tasmania.

Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the three Antarctic bases, Casey, Davis and Mawson, do not observe daylight saving time.[30]

The table below shows Australian time zones for 2009 10 and how they relate to UTC.

Australian time zones 2009-10

The ready reckoner below shows times in Australian states and territories during the summer of 2009 10 and autumn of 2010.

2009-10 Daylight saving time ready reckoner

Appendix 1. State and territory legislation

New South Wales

Standard Time Act 1987


Supreme Court Act 1986
Summer Time Act 1972


Standard Time Act 1894

South Australia

The Standard Time Act 2009
Daylight Saving Act 1971
Daylight Saving Regulations 2009

Western Australia

Standard Time Act 2005


Standard Time Act 1895
Daylight Saving Act 2007

Northern Territory

Standard Time Act 2005

Australian Capital Territory

Standard Time and Summer Time Act 1972

Appendix 2. Wartime legislation

First World War

For the First World War, the legislation was the Daylight Saving Act 1916. It came into force on 1 January 1917.

Section 4 of that Act says: Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act or State Act, from the hour of two in the morning of the day upon which this Act commences [1 January 1917] until the hour of two in the morning of the last Sunday in March next following that day, and thereafter from the hour of two in the morning of the last Sunday in September in each year until the hour of two in the morning of the last Sunday in March in the following year, Australian clock time shall, as regards each State and Territory being part of the Commonwealth, be one hour in advance of standard time.

Section 2 of the Act stipulates that the Act should stay in force for the duration of the war and six months thereafter, but no longer . However, according to Ernest Scott people felt there was not enough twilight to make it worthwhile and people in rural and regional areas were not happy with it.[31] The Act was therefore repealed by the Daylight Saving Repeal Act 1917. This was passed in September 1917 and took effect immediately. Both Acts appear to rely on the Commonwealth's wartime defence power, as it has not been established whether the Commonwealth has any power to legislate in this area.

Second World War

For the Second World War, the legislation was Statutory Rule no. 392 of 1942. This was an amendment to the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations and was published in the Government Gazette on 10 September 1942. The text says: Regulation 28 of the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subregulation: (2.) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law of the Commonwealth or of any State or Territory, from the hour of two o'clock in the morning of Sunday, the twenty-seventh day of September, 1942, until the hour of two o'clock in the morning of Sunday, the twenty-eighth day of March, 1943, summer time shall, in respect of each State and Territory, be one hour in advance of standard time. Under this statutory rule, daylight saving ended on 28 March 1943 but Statutory Rule no. 241 of 1943 extended daylight saving time to March 1944, this time excluding Western Australia by repealing and substituting sub-regulation 2. On 22 August 1944, Federal Cabinet agreed: That unless the Premiers expressed a wish to retain the daylight saving arrangement it should not be reintroduced.

[1]. Section 51(xv) of the Constitution says that [t]he Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to weights and measures . A private member s Bill, the National Measurement (Standard Time) Amendment Bill passed all stages in the House of Representatives in 1991. It was adopted by the then Labor government which introduced it into the Senate. It was withdrawn without vote from the Senate following the daylight saving referendum in Queensland in February 1992. In November 2006, Peter Conway from The Canberra Institute called on the federal government to use its powers to administer a national daylight saving system. See Megan Doherty, Idea sees light of day , Canberra Times, 24 November 2006, p. 16, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FS2KL6%22.

[2]. Greg Baker, Daylight saving time summer 2008 09, Research paper, no. 14, 2008 09, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2008, viewed 15 October 2009, Also see Greg Baker, Daylight saving time summer 2007 08, Research paper, no. 6, 2007 08, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007, viewed 15 October 2009, and Greg Baker, Daylight saving time, Research note, no. 13, 2006 07, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2006, viewed 15 October 2009,

[3]. In 1970 the Coordinated Universal Time system was devised by an international advisory group of technical experts within the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU felt it was best to designate a single abbreviation for use in all languages in order to minimize confusion. Since unanimous agreement could not be achieved by using either the English word order, CUT, or the French word order, TUC, the acronym UTC was chosen as a compromise . US National Institute of Standards and Technology, Frequently asked questions why is UTC used as the acronym for Coordinated Universal Time instead of CUT? , NIST website, viewed 15 ocotber 2009, The Australian version of UTC is known as UTC(AUS); it is mandated in Australia by the National Measurement Act 1960 and maintained by the National Measurement Institute (NMI). See National Measurement Institute (NMI), Time , Fact Sheet, NMI website, viewed 15 October 2009, Note that UTC has replaced Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for the purposes of civil time.

[4] Historically, time of day for each location was determined by defining midday as when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. With the introduction of fast land travel, particularly railways, timetabling arrival and departure times became a significant problem with the multiplicity of local time systems. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted in England as the national standard of time by railways in the 1840s, and a series of time zones was developed in the USA by railways in 1883. GMT has since been replaced by the atomic-based time system, Coordinated Universal Time. John Birch, Executive Director 1986 2000, National Standards Commission, personal communication, 19 August 2007; and Graeme Davidson, The unforgiving minute how Australians learned to tell the time, OUP, Melbourne, 1993, p. 71.

[5]. The minor exception is Broken Hill on which there is more following in the main text. There are also some local unofficial variations for those people living in the south-east corner of Western Australia along the Eyre Highway between South Australia and Western Australia. In towns such as Eucla, the time is set at UTC plus 8 hours and 45 minutes, viz. half way between South Australian and Western Australian times. It is unofficially known as Central Western Standard Time. See Wikipedia, Time in Australia , and Wikipedia, Eucla, Western Australia ,,_Western_Australia, both viewed 15 October 2009; and Gwillim Law, Time zones of Australia , Administrative divisions of countries, viewed 15 October 2008,

[6]. Jan Todd, For good measure the making of Australia s measurement system, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2004, pp. 28 9. Note that all states standardised their time zones from the beginning of February 1895; at that time South Australian time was set half way between the east and west coasts. Following legislation, South Australia changed its standard time to 30 minutes closer to the east coast in 1898 but there has been some debate in the past few years variously about again setting South Australian time to mid-way between east and west coasts and about setting South Australian time to Eastern Standard Time. See, for example, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), MP fights against joining eastern time zone , ABC website, 15 December 2004, viewed 15 October 2009, and Editorial, Right time for daylight saving trial , The Advertiser, 29 June 2007, p. 16, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FZHIN6%22. Part of the explanation for state and territory based time zones is that these were set up before Federation. John Birch, Executive Director 1986 2000, National Standards Commission, personal communication, 19 August 2007.

[7]. Strictly this refers to the County of Yancowinna.

[8]. Times for Broken Hill and Lord Howe Island, as well as New South Wales, are set out in the New South Wales Standard Time Act 1987, viewed 15 October 2009,

[9]. Legislatively Broken Hill time is defined by the New South Wales Act; this time coincides with CST.

[10]. Time zone information for Christmas Island is at; for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is at; and for Norfolk Island is at All viewed 15 October 2009.

[11]. Australian Antarctic Division, viewed 29 October 2009,

[12]. Information about the Antarctic bases from Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Time , AAD website, viewed 15 October 2009,; and from personal communication.

[13]. Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, no. 36, 1944 1945, p. 1119. A good summary of daylight saving in Australia to the early 1990s is in Graeme Davison, The unforgiving minute how Australians learned to tell the time, OUP, Melbourne, 1993, pp. 114 121. Appendix 2 below has more details of wartime daylight saving time legislation.

[14]. Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Daylight saving time implementation dates of daylight saving time within Australia , BOM website, viewed 15 October 2009,

[15]. During daylight saving time, Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) becomes Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) and Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) becomes Australian Central Daylight Time (ACDT). See Australian Government, Time , Australian Government website, viewed 15 October 2009,

[16]. E-Petitions can be found through The two E-Petitions referred to here are numbered 553 05 and 571 05 respectively, viewed 15 October 2009.

[17]. Anna Bligh MP, the then acting Premier of Queensland,, and, both dated 20 May 2006, viewed 15 October 2009.

[18]. Steven Wardill, Premier looks at daylight saving , Courier Mail, 23 November 2006, p. 3, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FFAKL6%22.

[19]. The E-Petitions can be found through
The two E-Petitions referred to here are numbered 931 07 and 973 07 respectively. E-Petition 931 07 was signed by 77 074 people called for a referendum on the introduction of daylight saving time. The Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh rejected this suggestion; the rejection prompted E-Petition 973 07 which was in turn rejected with another letter from the Premier of Queensland. The cycle continued with yet another E-Petition numbered 1140 08 rejected by a letter which is at, viewed 15 October 2009.

[20]. Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland,, and, 21 December 2007 and 11 June 2008 respectively, both viewed 15 October 2009. While showing 59 per cent in favour state wide, the survey showed 52 per cent of people outside the state s south east corner were not in favour of daylight saving time. The Daylight Saving for South East Queensland Party was formed in late 2008. Daylight Saving for South East Queensland Party website, viewed 29 October 2009,

[21]. Amanda O Brien, West to clock on for daylight saving after Carpenter backs trial , The Australian, 25 October 2006, p. 4, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F7Q8L6%22.

[22]. Ben Spencer, It s daylight to rivals as MLCs bed down trial , West Australian, 22 November 2006, p. 4, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FLJJL6%22.

[23]. Katie Hampson, Clocks go forward WA moves with them , West Australian, 2 December 2006, p. 14, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FVRNL6%22. See also Daylight Saving Act 2006 (WA), viewed 29 October 2009,$FILE/DaylightSavingAct2006_00-a0-06.pdf?OpenElement. Despite opposition to daylight saving following the change of government in Western Australian government, Premier Colin Barnett and Nationals leader Brendon Grylls ... recognised it [was] too late to avoid the final year of the trial. Amanda Banks, Last daylight saving trial unstoppable: Grylls , The West Australian, 20 September 2008, p. 7, viewed 15 October 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2FTRLR6%22. Official results are at Western Australian Electoral Commission, 2009 Daylight saving referendum , WAEC website, viewed 15 October 2009,

[24]. Council of Australian Governments, Communique, 14 July 2006,, viewed 15 October 2009.

[25]. The New South Wales Standard Time Act 1987, viewed 29 October 2009, as amended legislates that daylight saving time starts in New South Wales on the first Sunday in October and finishes on the first Sunday in April. In Victoria the new arrangements are at, viewed 15 October 2009. For South Australia see the Hon. Paul Caica, Dates set for SA s ongoing daylight saving, media release, 28 April 2009, viewed 15 October 2009,
South Australia s Daylight Saving Regulations 2009 came into effect on 21 September 2009 and will remain in force until 2020. See, viewed 15 October 2009. Confirmation of the start and finish dates for the Australian Capital Territory are in the Chief Minister s Department, Daylight saving arrangements in the ACT, viewed 15 October 2009,

[26]. Premier of South Australia, Calls for feedback on daylight saving extension, 27 October 2008, viewed 15 October 2009,

[27]. Minister Paul Ciaca, Dates set for SA s ongoing daylight saving , viewed 15 October 2009,

[28] A good introduction to the arguments for and against daylight saving time was put in the debates leading up to the recent Western Australian trial. M. J. Birney, the MLA for Kalgoorlie, put the case for daylight saving on 25 October 2006 as did J. B. D'Orazio, the MLA for Ballajura. For these arguments see the Birney speech and the D'Orazio speech in the Western Australian Hansard., viewed 16 October 2009,$File/A37%20S1%2020061025%20All.pdf. The case against was put by a number of speakers in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly on 31 October 2006. The arguments are also in the Hansard for that day, viewed 16 October 2009,$File/A37%20S1%2020061031%20All.pdf. See also the Western Australian Electoral Commission, 2009 Daylight saving referendum arguments , viewed 16 October 2009, As noted above, a good discussion of daylight saving time in Australia is in Graeme Davison, The Unforgiving Minute: How Australians Learned to Tell the Time, OUP, Melbourne, 1993, pp. 114 21.

[29]. The data in the table are from the sources which follow. For New South Wales see,
viewed 16 October 2009; for Queensland see,
viewed 16 October 2009; for South Australia see;
viewed 20 October 2009; and for Western Australia see Big WA vote against daylight saving , The Australian, 26 March 1975, WA State Electoral Department, Statistics Relating to the Referendum Held 7 April 1984. Also see David Black and John Mandy, The Western Australian Parliamentary Handbook, Parliament of Western Australia, 20th edition, 2002, pp 375 7. Results for the Western Australian 2009 referendum are at Western Australian Electoral Commission, 2009 Daylight saving referendum: results and statistics: results by region , viewed 21 October 2009,

[30]. Information about the Antarctic bases from Australian Antarctic Division, Time , viewed 21 October 2009,; and by personal communication. Time zone information for Christmas Island is at; for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is at; and for Norfolk Island is at All viewed 21 October 2009.

[31]. Ernest Scott, Australia during the war , Official history of Australia in the war of 1914 1918, vol. 11, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1943.


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