Editorial: At the end of the day . . .

21:32, Sep 28 2012

It's time to be reminded to put our clocks forward an hour at 2am tomorrow to make it 3am, although those of us who prefer to sleep through the switching hour can advance our clocks an hour before going to bed tonight.

This annual ritual will give us an extra hour of daylight in the evenings until April 7 next year, when we will reverse the process. It will also result in some Waikato people - dairy farmers, for example - becoming seriously inconvenienced and/or disgruntled.

But daylight saving is a policy intended to provide the greatest happiness for the greatest number. The Government reviewed and extended the period of daylight saving in 2007, following public debate and a petition to Parliament. It also conducted a survey of public attitudes and found 82 per cent of respondents approved of the extension. Only 11 per cent disapproved.

Dairy farmers were specifically surveyed for their opinions by a government that recognised they had traditionally opposed daylight saving. The survey found 54 per cent approved of the extension and 41 per cent disapproved, but when asked about daylight saving in general, 82 per cent approved and just 15 per cent disapproved.

And while dairy farmers might grumble about getting up in the dark to make their contribution to the economy, Internal Affairs staff received positive reports from several tourism operators who said more hours of daylight benefited their business.

A Presbyterian minister in Christchurch, on his blog, raises good questions, however. If we really are saving daylight, for example - where do we store it? And has anyone thought of saving daylight in the summer, when there is more of it than we need, and relocating it to winter, when we don't have enough? We could even export it to places like Antarctica and Sweden . . .

If this could be done, of course, we would have to brace for daylight becoming the subject of a treaty claim.