FW: Updated Australian time zone names/strings

David J N Begley d.begley at uws.edu.au
Sat Mar 24 15:20:25 UTC 2001

Earlier today, Robert Elz wrote:

> This would be nice, except that EST/EST is correct.

By what definition?  There is plenty of evidence to indicate that AEST/AEDT is
in common use and even the quoted (not by me) message from the National
Standards Commission suggests that AEST/AEDT is not only valid, but correct.

> It uses daulight savings only in a few headings, etc - the actual content
> of the act (had you bothered to quote that) uses and defines "New South Wales
> Summer Time".

"Bothered"?  The references to various sections of the Act plus a URL pointing
to the Act in its entirety didn't make the original message long enough?

If one was to be as literal as you and John would prefer, then the time zone
abbreviations would probably be "NSWST/NSWST" for both standard time and
summer time (see part 1, section 2 of the Act);  the fact that *nobody* uses
those abbreviations in practice has to call into question the whole
justification for using "EST/EST".

Just to be clear, here is the relevant part of the definitions in the Act:

  "In this Act:
  New South Wales standard time means standard time as fixed by section 3.
  New South Wales summer time means summer time as fixed by section 7."

No mention at all of "eastern" anything.

> The Victorian Act (when I looked this up way back when this issue was
> first relevant) defines Eastern Summer Time (I think the Vic parliament
> felt it had a mandate to legislate for all of Eastern Australia...  or
> perhaps hoped that it would at least be uniform.)

How does this relate to the abbreviations used for "Australia/Sydney" in the
time zone database?  ;-)

> I haven't checked it recently and don't have a URL for the Vic act, but I
> expect it is still pretty similar.

I am only guessing that this is still correct given that it also shows up on a
search of the Victorian Government's Web sites:

  "Summer Time Act 1972"

Herein the definitions are of "standard time" and "summer time", not "eastern"
anything;  again, if taken literally then the abbreviations for Victoria would
be simply "ST/ST".

Honestly, Robert, the legislation is not all that useful in determining time
zone names or abbreviations (for the purposes of the tz database anyway) - all
the laws do is give authority to the fact that those States will observe
daylight savings time during summer, that's all.

In my own defence at quoting from the NSW Act, I was arguing against the (only
perceived?) suggestion that the term "daylight saving" is never used in
Australia, that's all.

Even a search for "Eastern Standard Time" on the Victorian Government's Web
site (www.vic.gov.au) turns up references to "AEST" and "Australian Eastern
Standard Time" (and yes, other variations for standard and summer time too).

Heck, searching AustLII's and SCALEplus' databases (and no, I'm not going to
bother quoting anything this time) shows appearances in legal proceedings of
the following phrases/abbreviations in relation to time:

- "AEST" in the Federal Court of Australia and the Migration Review
  Tribunal of Australia;

- "AEDT" in the Supreme Court of New South Wales;

- "Australian Eastern Standard Time" in the Federal Court of Australia
  and the Supreme Court of Victoria;  and,

- "Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time" in the Commonwealth Administrative
  Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court of Australia{*}.

{*} Interestingly, here both the full name and a different abbreviation are
    given;  the case is BHP Steel (AIS) Pty Ltd v Construction, Forestry,
    Mining & Energy Union [2000] FCA 1853 (15 December 2000), where Justice
    Kiefel wrote (presumably obiter dictum):

    Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time ("AEDST")

Further, some legislation *relies* on these abbreviations and phrases;  for
example, the Commonwealth Corporations (Unlisted Property Trusts) Amendment
Act 1991 No. 200 of 1991, section 10:

  "'commencement' means 4.50 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time
  on 23 July"

It's good enough for the courts and legislation...

On the issue of whether or not the Commonwealth Government has the power to
legislate time zones as a measure of commerce, clearly the NSC includes time
as a measure of commerce and the Commonwealth has considered time zones within
its power (which is why it tried to legislate to that effect in 1991 - see

As for "summer time" in the State legislation, this is clearly a definition
for the legal purposes of interpreting the rest of the relevant Acts, not for
defining common use beyond a local context (otherwise, how do you account
for the Corporations Act amendment that refers to "Australian Eastern
Standard Time"?).

Some interesting papers on the topic of time in Australia (which at least once
refer to "Eastern Standard Time") is available from the NSC:

  "The Australian National Time System"

  "Daylight Saving"

> You will get me to accept that at exactly the same time as you get the
> UTS-0500 timezone name changed to "United States Eastern Standard Time"
> (and abbreviated as USEST).

I don't have any information on (or care about) that time zone.  :-)

>   |   Great! To get this bug fixed convince the authorities to change the laws
>   |   and regulations of the country this effects. glibc behaves correctly."
> The bug is in attempting to trun a timezone string into a numeric
> offset - that's simply crazy.

I won't disagree with you on that point (and in case you're assuming that
this is what I'm trying to do, you're wrong).

>   | This is clearly based on Mr Mackin's comment in the time zone database, and
>   | as I have demonstrated is wrong (in terms of the legislation and government
>   | use).
> You attempted to, but you failed, as it is not wrong.

Given the evidence available that supports changing the time zone
abbreviations from EST/EST to AEST/AEDT, by what authority do you claim to be
correct?  I've gone to great lengths to demonstrate that this is more than
just my "personal preference" but is also in widespread (and legitimate) use;
in response, you simply retort "it is wrong" and provide no evidence for this

Come on, Robert - "knows and responds to everything" shouldn't be taken
literally y'know...


More information about the tz mailing list