FW: Australian DST abbreviations causing business problems - still

Olson, Arthur David (NIH/NCI) [E] olsona at dc37a.nci.nih.gov
Tue Aug 26 13:24:43 UTC 2008

I'm forwarding this message from Mick Johnston, who is not on the time zone mailing list. Those of you who are on the list, please direct replies appropriately.


-----Original Message-----
From: Mick Johnston [mailto:Mick.Johnston at coles.com.au] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 1:42
To: 'tz at elsie.nci.nih.gov'
Subject: Australian DST abbreviations causing business problems - still

It's well past time the Australian 'Daylight Saving Time' abbreviations were updated to reflect the current terms and usage.

Comments posted previously in the 'australasia' file are outdated and wrong and have been causing lots of problems for years.

You don't have to take my word for this. Although most of the URLs identified in the file are not official sites and Daylight Saving Time is legislated by state governments, the exemplary abbreviations are displayed at the Australian federal government website at <http://www.australia.gov.au/Time#daylightsaving> as at 26/8/08.

Here is the important bit:


Where daylight saving is being observed:

*       AEST becomes Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), and clocks are advanced to UTC +11.

*       ACST becomes Australian Central Daylight Time (ACDT), and clocks are advanced to UTC +10 ½.
*       AWST becomes Australian Western Daylight Time (AWDT), and clocks are advanced to UTC +9. "

The abbreviations AEDT, ACDT and AWDT are commonly shortened to EDT, CDT and WDT.

Is there really a problem?
Yes. I work for a national retail company that makes deliveries across the country. Here is just one example of the sorts of problems we face.
Queensland don't have Daylight Saving Time.
New South Wales (across the border from Queensland) do have Daylight Saving Time.
Due to the fact that the Olsen data uses EST for both 'Eastern Summer Time' (New South Wales) and 'Eastern Standard Time' (Queensland), a delivery from New South Wales to Queensland can have a pickup time of 10.30am EST and a delivery time of 10.00am EST. We like to be efficient but we're not that good. System users only see the EST and get horribly confused.
If the problem impacts businesses, then why don't they use their own time zone tables?
It's not that simple. It's quite common today to find systems (like ours) that are purchased on an enterprise licence basis from a large international company. It could be difficult to get the company to change the base software product.
Also, it's common for software products to run on standard operating systems such as the AIX flavour of Unix, and for the software products to use whatever time zone information is applied by the operating system. Try getting the operating system vendor to change their software and they'll simply tell you it's based on the Olsen updates.

Then why hasn't the table been changed already?

To answer this question, I need to address some of the comments previously made in the 'australasia' file.

The first comment on this subject in the file was made by John Mackin back in 1991:

JM:" We in Australia have _never_ referred to DST as `daylight' time.
 It is called `summer' time."

MJ: This comment is more than 17 years old and horribly outdated. I have lived in Australia all my life and have been supporting systems here since well before 1991. Most Australians simply use the term 'Daylight Saving Time'. It's uncommon outside the business environment to use any other term.
In business and government, Australians recognized the problems associated with ambiguous abbreviations a long time ago and have generally adopted the 'EDT' form. Various federal government websites (although not official), in an attempt to encourage uniformity, have been displaying the newer abbreviations for some time.

Paul Eggert wrote an interesting post in 2001 that needs to be addressed.

PE: "My own impression is that both "Daylight Time" and "Summer Time" are
common and are widely understood, but that "Summer Time" is more

MJ: Based on my day-to-day observations and discussions with people across states, most Australians now don't use the term 'Eastern Summer Time'.

PE: "I just used AltaVista advanced search and got the
   following count of page hits:

     1,103 "Eastern Summer Time" AND domain:au
       971 "Australian Eastern Summer Time" AND domain:au
       613 "Eastern Daylight Time" AND domain:au
       127 "Australian Eastern Daylight Time" AND domain:au"

MJ: I just googled (26/8/08) similar searches based on an "Australia only" search and my results were:

30,500 - "eastern daylight time"
5,640 - "eastern summer time"

PE: "For abbreviations, tools like AltaVista are less useful because of
   ambiguity.  Many hits are not really time zones, unfortunately, and
   many hits denote US time zones and not Australian ones.  But here
   are the hit counts anyway:

     161,304 "EST" and domain:au
      25,156 "EDT" and domain:au"

MJ: I agree with your comments, which means the figures are totally inaccurate.

File Changes:

Due to the fact that the file forms part of the JTZU (Java Time Zone Updates) provided by the operating system vendor, I am unable to create and test proposed changes.

Also, there are quite a few changes required and I don't want to spend hours making these changes if they're not going to be applied.

I ask for your advice on how to proceed with this. I am happy to work with you to produce a complete set of revised rules if you decide to go ahead with this proposal. We will need to change Aus, AW, AS, AT, AV and AN rules and their corresponding zone formats to use the 'E%sT' format.

Thanks for your time and assistance

Mick Johnston
Dept:    CGL - IT ES Supply Chain
*  L4 Bourke St. Melbourne (ILS Support)
*  (03) 9635 4457

This email and any attachments may contain privileged and confidential information
and are intended for the named addressee only. If you have received this e-mail in
error, please notify the sender and delete this e-mail immediately. Any
confidentiality, privilege or copyright is not waived or lost because this e-mail
has been sent to you in error. It is your responsibility to check this e-mail and
any attachments for viruses.  No warranty is made that this material is free from
computer virus or any other defect or error.  Any loss/damage incurred by using this
material is not the sender's responsibility.  The sender's entire liability will be
limited to resupplying the material.

More information about the tz mailing list