Time zone difference costing investment and jobs in Queensland

A peak industry group has called for a fresh debate on daylight saving in Queensland after a new survey showed the summer time zone differences were stifling investment and jobs.

A national survey of 230 businesses by the Australian Industry Group found that an overwhelming 85% of businesses surveyed support changing Queensland’s current position on daylight saving.

Almost one in ten (9 per cent) of businesses that already operated in Queensland were less likely to further invest here because of the daylight-saving differences.

A similar proportion of companies operating in Brisbane said they were less likely to employ people in their Queensland offices due to this issue.

For businesses not currently operating in Queensland, almost 17 percent were less likely to invest in the State due to time zone issues.

The survey showed:

  • 72% of the business surveyed supported daylight saving being introduced across Queensland. A further 13% supported two different summer time zones within Queensland (meaning 85% in total support changing the status quo)
  • Almost one in three businesses said daylight saving had a “significant impact” on their business and most of the remaining companies reported a minor impact
  • About 31% of Brisbane businesses, and 25% outside of Brisbane, have to alter work hours for staff in due to the summer time differences

The survey, conducted after daylight saving finished in Victoria and New South Wales earlier this year, highlighted the continuous frustration for businesses working across borders.

In Queensland the “significant impact” of the time differences was felt most starkly in Brisbane (34%) compared with 12.5% reported by Queensland businesses operating outside of the capital.

In total, 72% of the business surveyed supported daylight saving being introduced in Queensland. 15% were opposed and 13% supported two different time zones in the State during summer. This suggests that a very large proportion of businesses (85%) support changes to the State’s existing stance on daylight saving.

Australian Industry Group Queensland Head Shane Rodgers said the survey highlighted the need to have a fresh, mature discussion in the State on the merits of daylight saving.

“The debate up until now has tended to focus on lifestyle issues and some of the practical regional issues that emerge from turning the clock forward in summer,” he said.

“With new evidence emerging of the potential extent of the economic impact on the State, it is time to take another look at this issue from an economic perspective.

“This can’t just be a discussion about whether we want to shuffle some extra recreation time to the end of the day. We need to take a long, hard look at what being out of time step is doing to business costs and employment.

“Daylight saving was shut down in 1992 following a close referendum on the issue. Much has changed since that time and a whole new generation of Queenslanders has not been given a chance to have a say on the issue.

“There is now more flexibility in working hours, the internet has changed the way we work and many of the previous concerns can be mitigated through sensible compromise.

“The issue remains divisive, and certainly not everyone supports daylight saving, but we can’t just keep sweeping it under the carpet because it is politically sensitive. We need to be robust enough as a state to have a proper grown-up conversation about it.

“In particular we need a greater focus on how lateral thinking and flexibility could mitigate the concerns about daylight saving in the north and west of the State,” Mr Rodgers said.

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is a peak employer organisation in Australia which represents the interests of thousands of businesses in an expanding range of industry sectors including: manufacturing; engineering; construction; food & beverage processing; transport & logistics; information technology; telecommunications; labour hire; and defence. Ai Group’s influence crosses all areas of workplace development and sustainability. aigroup.com.au

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