31 March 2023

'Kids waiting for the bus in the dark': Is daylight saving too long?

| Oliver Jacques
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Jessica riding her bike

Meghan Hardie says her daughter Jessica has a tough time in the dark during the March mornings. Photo: Meghan Hardie.

With clocks poised to be wound back an hour this Sunday (2 April), debate has flared again over whether six months of daylight saving disadvantages rural communities.

While there’s often been jokes about Queenslanders thinking the time change fades the curtains and confuses the cows, Tallimba farmer Meghan Hardie says there are legitimate grievances.

“I’ve been getting up in the dark for a month … just to get my child on the 8 am school bus,” she says.

The dark mornings in March and October cause problems for many farming families, where the sun rises later than it does on the east coast and people need to do chores on their property before starting their work and school days.

READ ALSO It’s time to ditch daylight saving – for good

Up until 1995, daylight saving in NSW was for just four months of the year, beginning in late October and ending in early March. In 1996, the full month of March was swallowed by daylight saving, and by 2008, October was added as well.

“It’s just so excessive,” Mrs Hardie said. “Taking that month off either side would be great … everyone is just focused on their own life. If we just said let’s start in early November instead of October, nobody would really notice.

“Animals don’t care about what our clock says. They’re doing what the sun says. On the drive to work, I’m dodging animals all the time.”


The timing of sunrises and sunsets in rural areas is important, says Mrs Hardie. Photo: Meghan Hardie.

These problems have often been raised by rural MPs in NSW Parliament. In November 2021, Tweed MP Geoff Provest moved a motion arguing daylight saving was six weeks too long.

“In all honesty, having young kids getting up in the dark and undertaking anything more than a 40-kilometre drive to get to school means they are leaving in the dark and getting home in the dark. There is no benefit in extending daylight saving. It is a major issue that is having a social impact on families,” he said.

The motion was supported by a number of other politicians who represent regional electorates, who claimed those in Sydney struggle to understand the impact on their constituents.

On Wednesday 29 March, the sun rose in Sydney at 7:03 am. But in the Western Riverina town of Hay, it didn’t rise until 7:30 am. This difference impacts farming families, Mrs Hardie says.

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“My daughter Jess is up at 6:30 in the morning; she has to feed the chooks and collect the eggs in the dark … in Weethalle, children have to take the bus to school at 7:45 am, so you can have kids waiting for the bus in the dark.”

She believes we have a lengthy daylight saving period because people in the city like it that way, as they’re able to extend their leisure activities into the night.

“Why are you wanting to play golf at 8 pm? It’s 2023. If you want to play tennis, just turn the lights on,” she said.

In 2021, Maclean resident Carolyn Doyle put a petition garnering 890 signatures to NSW Parliament arguing for a reduction in “the length of the daylight saving period from six to four months”. She pointed out there was a referendum in NSW in 1972 to have four months of daylight saving, but residents of the state have never voted to extend it to half the year.

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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complaints about daylight savings when it starts and ends is as predictable as the whinging about traffic issues on the way to and from the coast on a long weekend.

Bob the impala9:53 am 04 Apr 23

What? You would deny Riotact their clicks??

I think more the problem is that most people fail to distinguish the issues before advancing their self-focussed opinion. Socially and individually, changing clocks twice annually is unequivocally bad. The research is available*.

Yet that has little if anything to do with how you prefer to organise your day, how many hours of daylight you would prefer before or after work, what conditions of play you allow your children.

We already have people who typically work 0700-1500, or start even earlier, or work evenings or at night. ‘Daylight saving’, clock-shifting, was just a way of systematically changing everyone’s hours at once. Fine. Settle on a generally preferred clock number for when the Sun is at its zenith, fix it and walk away. I would be content with any number society chooses, so long as it sticks. I can organise myself around it while society will be better off.

* Briefly, a bump in ‘natural’ death rate, a bump in suicides, more errors by people who control machinery and systems. Twice a year. Why?

Seems like it’s a black and white issue for many RiotACTers – either love daylight saving (more please) or hate it (stop it now).
I have more trouble with the move into daylight saving – body clock takes a little while to get used to ‘getting up an hour earlier’.
I think I’d prefer permanency one way or the other – not really fussed which way it goes.

Daylight saving all year round please. It’s fantastic to have an hour extra with light after work. And kids can play outside after school.
I don’t see a problem with waiting for the bus in the dark. I did it as a kid all the time.

Not sure where you manage to find that ‘hour extra’ in the day – mine still only consists of 24 hours.

The words were, “our extra with light after work.” I understood; very clear to me.
An extra hour of light to cycle home in, passing others also out enjoying this extra hour after work of daylight, rather than cycle home in the dark. Then to be able to see ingredients for my dinner in my garden rather than feel for them in the dark. Others would find their own thing to do in this extra light. When daylight saving finished, the people outside, enjoying the daylight suddenly no longer were there. However, to those who drive straight home and go inside and don’t come out again, it could be day or night; it makes no difference. Allow the rest of us to enjoy a lighter evening though.

Bob the impala12:40 pm 02 Apr 23

It should just end.

Initially I was happy enough with daylight saving despite a few obvious inconveniences. It was introduced as, and seemed, a good idea at the time. Over years, research was undertaken, introducing a few facts, so I changed my mind. Changing clocks twice a year is unhealthy for individuals and creates social problems. Daylight ‘saving’ saves no energy, nothing is conserved.

Pick a time, whether it is standard time or ‘dayight saving’ time, and stick to it all year. Changing twice a year is a waste of effort and of lives. Such redeeming features as may be found do not warrant the costs.

Sad, it’s ended. Daylight saying all year please.
Waiting in the dark. Gees, we played in the dark for hours as kids. Maybe it’s the parents here worrying about this, more than the children. Parents worrying can also make children nervous. Give them nice large, fun lamps to carry and swing about. Make the journey to the bus fun.
Put solar lights in the bus shelter, with a switch, so they can turn them on, or if no bus shelter solar lights along the fence, again with a switch. I imagine in winter and minus 7C, you drive them to the school bus, if it’s far.
Once on the bus, it doesn’t matter it’s dark. They can go back to sleep.

Nick Stevens1:00 pm 04 Apr 23

No need to be sad about DL saving ending, you can always make nice large fun lamps to swing about in the evening.

Nick Stevens, Difficult for the people I see jogging, walking, to swing about lanterns, out enjoying that hour of daylight after work; the daylight which suddenly disappears when it turns dark. And then suddenly those people aren’t there. Difficult for people cycling too. But you would need to get out of your car to experience that.
My comment was aimed for children walking from their house across the farm to the bus stop, to give them some fun. (I also caught a bus from a farm to school.)

Ditch the day light saving completely! It’s not natural and is disturbing our sleeping habits.

Zoe Liu, Blinds. You know those screens that block out the sun. How do you think people get by who live in places where for weeks it’s 24 hour daylight? Blinds; they use blinds. That’s what I used when I visited a place with 24 hour daylight. The blinds worked well. But gees, the 24 hours daylight was great. Lots of sightseeing time. Loved it.

Really? People are whingeing because they have to get up in the dark in March? What about May and June? They will still have to get up in the dark.

How would those whingers cope in Europe? When I grew up, it was dark until 8 am in winter and school started at 8 am. In the afternoon it got dark at 4 pm and as we had three afternoons with classes until 4 pm and even 5 pm, we regularly walked home in the dark as well. In my late teens I spent a year in London where it was dark until 9 am and got dark again at 3 pm.

I love daylight savings and the long summer evenings when you can actually do something outside.

trudi i 100% agree with you. typical of the world we live in today. “it doesnt fit into my lifestyle we must get rid of it” attitude of all the whingers on here. can someone please stop the world i really do want to get off now.

We’re designed to sleep in the dark and wake when it gets light. The birds know that and we should too. There is no need for most people in Australia to get up in the dark. Extended daylight saving has prevented us living our lives naturally and getting enough sleep. It presents unnecessary safety risks for people of all ages who’re forced to travel in the dark. This adds to anxiety for children, parents, girls and women who are forced to be out and about before it gets light. Why? There is no clear benefit.

Macquariephil4:28 pm 01 Apr 23

Get rid of daylight saving. I loathe it because it disturbs my sleep cycle.

Dec, Jan, Feb, then ditch it. There is no benefit going on for so long

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