Tomorrow, daylight saving commences in southern states, and Queensland businesses will again experience the inconvenience of being out of sync with customers, clients, suppliers, and partners in southern states. In his latest QEAS blog post, my colleague Nick Behrens has called for a review into whether Queensland should adopt daylight saving. I agree with him, and I have previously made similar comments. For example, see my comments in this Broadsheet Brisbane article from February this year: Why Can’t We Have Daylight Saving in Brisbane, and What Are the Costs?
One potential stream of economic benefits comes from the boost daylight saving would provide to the hospitality sector. It’s obvious when you visit southern capitals how their residents are taking advantage of the extra daylight hour at the end of the day, with the sidewalk cafes and restaurants full of people.
Incidentally, Queensland’s hospitality sector could certainly do with a boost, given its recent lacklustre performance (see chart below), even though tourist numbers are up. The end of the mining investment boom a few years ago no doubt impacted the sector heavily.
Of course, there is more to consider with daylight saving than the potential economic benefits. Having lived in Townsville during Queensland’s last experiment with daylight saving, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I know that daylight saving can be difficult for many people living in the tropical north and other parts of regional Queensland. And, in many parts of regional Queensland, outdoor recreation and dining in Summer are less attractive options than they are in SEQ. The state government could consider splitting the state for the purpose of daylight saving, but that would mean regional businesses would be out of sync with SEQ businesses. We really need a comprehensive study into different models for daylight saving, and the relative costs and benefits of the different models, compared with the status quo, of course.
Daylight saving is certainly a challenging issue, but one which should definitely be reconsidered for Queensland, given the economic costs to the state that are currently being incurred and the potential benefits from greater recreational opportunities and the boost to the hospitality sector that would probably occur.