Australian time zoning

Alex Livingston alex at
Tue Jan 7 07:31:23 UTC 1997

>Alex Livingston writes:
>>>I was told recently that the town (district probably) of
>>>Kunumurra, in far north east Western Australia has switched its
>>>time zone to be the same as that of the Northern Territory
>>>instead of using WA time (they're just over the border, and the
>>>WA time zone is wildly inappropriate, so it makes sense).
>>To say that the WA time, 08:00 ahead of UT, in Kununurra (I presume that is
>>where is meant: there were no matches for Kunumurra on an AltaVista Web
>>search but about 200 for Kununurra [and 9 and 7 for Kunnunurra and Kununnurra
>>respectively]) is wildly inappropriate is more than an overstatement. The
>>WA-NT border runs along the 129 deg. E meridian, so WA time in Kunnunurra is
>>less than 36 minutes behind LMT. Is that particularly inappropriate?
>>If Kununurra adopts / has adopted NT time, 09:30 ahead of UT, then its time
>>will be / is more than 54 minutes ahead of LMT. Isn't that even more
>>"inappropriate"? It is Australia's "Central Time" (09:30 ahead of UT) that is
>>inappropriate. The closest it comes to being "appropriate" is on SA's eastern
>>border with NSW, where it is still 6 minutes ahead of LMT.

I need to confess an oversight here: In fact, the closest Australia's "Central Time" comes to being "appropriate" is at the easternmost point of the shire containing the mining town of Broken Hill (and not much else), namely Yancowinna, NSW, which abuts the SA border. This town is considerably closer to SA's largest capital and largest city (Adelaide) then NSW's (Sydney) and in the shire containing it "Central Time" is kept, along with SA's daylight saving changes. However, unless this shire is particularly huge (and I'm sure it isn't), even at this point "Central Time" is probably still a couple of minutes ahead of LMT.
>According to Doane (1972) and adopted GMT+9 when they first
>adopted standard time 1895-02-01, and then moved to GMT+9:30 on 1899-05-01. 
>Like many places, they moved from the right time to the wrong time.

That concurs with what I have read in a South Australian Yearbook.

>I believe that the change was made because Adelaide (138E35), the largest city
>in the two states/territories is right on the eastern edge of the time zone
>and prefers to be on LMT+0:16 to LMT-0:14.

Maybe. Or it didn't want to be so far behind the eastern states (especially Melbourne).

>>IMHO Australia's time zoning is a farce. Australia is wholly responsible for
>>3 of world's "off the hour" time zones (central zone, Lord Howe Island and
>>Norfolk Island) and partially responsible for another 1 (Cocos Islands - same
>>time as Burma).
>While I would be opposed to current ACT if I lived there, I do not regard off-
>hour zones to be a bad thing, if it is a better fit to LMT.  (ACT, of course,
>does NOT meet this standard.)  If I lived in Portugal or Ireland, I would be
>in favor of GMT-0:30 instead of GMT or GMT-1.  In the USA the row of states
>from North Dakota to Texas would be better off on GMT-6:30 instead of -6,
>especially since they all keep DST until late October.

Doesn't the practice of observing DST blow any pretended association between legal time and LMT completely out of the water anyway? If a whole-hour intervals between zones are small enough to adequately resolve legal time for all practical purposes in one part of the world, aren't they small enough in every part? I would rather see time zone boundaries moved than off-hour time zones used. I lived most of my life in South Australia, and it irritated me when I had to work out the time almost anywhere else in the world and I had to get that half hour in the right direction (for others it would have been a snap, I'm sure). Another advantage of whole-hour timezone differences is that live broadcasts could give "global" time calls in terms of minutes before or after the hour. Yet another is that it reduces the proliferation of different times kept simultaneously when daylight-saving time is observed (e.g. there are at present five different times in use on the Australian mainland alone, six if the time kept at the roadhouse just west of the WA-SA border [UT+08:45, 0:45 ahead of WA and 1:45 behind SA!] is counted; if whole-hour time zones were in use there would be no more than four).

>>There seems to me to be two main options for the central zone:
>>1: Put the whole zone on UT+10 year-round (no more inappropriate than
>>Argentina, not to mention China), with the possible exception of the
>>southwest corner of SA (where hardly anyone lives), which could keep on UT+9
---->                                  ----> shouldn't have been there ^^
>>(whether "officially" or otherwise) along with the southeast corner of WA
>>(where even fewer people live) which already keeps UT+8:45 year-round (ugh!).

>>2: Put the whole zone on UT+9 during a standardised non-daylight-saving
>>period, advancing the southern section to UT+10 during a standardised
>>daylight-saving period.

A third main option I forgot when I wrote that is:

3: Put the whole zone on UT+10 during a standardised daylight-saving period, retarding the southern section to UT+9 during a standardised non-daylight-saving period (i.e., same as 2, but with northern section on UT+10 year-round instead of UT+9 year-round).

In any of these cases consideration could be given to keeping UT+9 in eastern and northern parts of WA.

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