An Open Letter to the Premier of Victoria, proposing a Modest Improvement to Daylight Savings Time

Dear Mr Premier,

Like many Victorians, I voted for you in the recent election because I believed you would cut through the politics and deliver on the real issues. Yet the first Sunday in October has been and gone, and we are stuck with the same old Daylight Savings regime. This system dates to the 19th Century, as I’m sure you’re aware, and is in serious need of a rethink.

Over the past ten years I have developed an improved system of Daylight Savings, which I call “Constant Dawn”. The system is simple, efficient, and eliminates all the problems associated with Daylight Savings (namely, slightly increased incidence of acute myocardial infarction following shifts to and from daylight savings time (Jiddou et al 2013), mild feelings of temporal disorientation, and the risk of a missed meeting on those two “Scary Sundays”).

Constant Dawn works by fixing sunrise at 6:30 am every day, which is an eminently sensible time I’m sure you will agree. In Melbourne, this would yield sunsets at 4:02 pm in the middle of winter, and at 9:17 pm in the middle of summer, with a more-or-less sinusoidal interpolation in the intervening months. Again, all quite reasonable.

I know what you’re thinking - as the time of local sunrise is dependant on the observer’s current latitude, longitude, and elevation, we would need to select a common reference point by which to calculate sunrise and sunset. That is the naive response, certainly, but here is where my system excels. Instead of one rigid time zone to be applied across the entire state (which as you would know spans 5 degrees of latitude, 9 degrees of longitude, and 1986 metres of elevation) my proposal specifies that each clock be set according to its local latitude, longitude, and elevation. This will require some additional vigilance if residents with wristwatches choose to travel from place to place, or if a clock is moved from one location to another (those with mobile telephones will no doubt acquire an “app” to manage the changes), but in most instances the differences involved will be negligible. Furthermore, for the sake of increased simplicity, a ruling in the Government Gazette will allow all clocks on the same floor of a domestic dwelling to be set to the same time (inaccurate, of course, but a close enough approximation for all relevant purposes, and probably necessary in the transition years at least to ensure compliance and acceptance of this new regime).

I would prefer clocks to be adjusted every second to ensure unbroken accuracy, but I accept that a single update at sunrise may be more convenient for most.

The advantages of this system are numerous. First, there will be no more confusion over when Daylight Savings comes into effect, for every day will be an adjustment day. Second, there will be no “daylight wastage”, as there will never be daylight before 6:30am. Third, the daily clock adjustments will be so small that no one will experience feelings of disorientation. Fourth, it becomes incredibly simple to accurately calibrate your clock - simply wait until sunrise, and you know it’s 6:30am. Fifth, I have conservatively estimated that the introduction of this system would boost the Victorian economy by $3 billion per annum in today’s currency (although I am also working on an improved system of currency exchange rates - stay tuned).

In years to come, Constant Dawn will be the commonly accepted system worldwide, and jurisdictions still practising Daylight Savings will be seen as backward and uncivilised, the same way we view Queensland today. I hope that Victoria can lead the way on this important development, and I trust that you, the Premier of this fine State, can make it happen.

I have attached my suggested design for a quick reference fridge magnet, which may be useful in situations where sunrise is not directly visible from a given location, and thus cannot be used to calibrate one’s clock. The equations border on trivial, but we must remember that some in our population are less versed in trigonometry and celestial motion than you or I.