Western Australia is a democracy in which elected representatives carry out the will of the majority … or is it? The issue of daylight saving raises questions about whose will the politicians are carrying out.
1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives
2. Government by the people; especially: rule of the majority
Normally, Western Australia doesn’t have daylight saving. However, some people - particularly politicians - have always been eager to see it introduced here. Following a trial of daylight saving in the summer of 1974/1975, a referendum was held and THE PEOPLE SAID NO to daylight saving.
In the 80s, supporters of daylight saving argued that public sentiment had changed, and that people too young to vote in the previous referendum wanted it, and deserved to have their voice heard. Another trial was held in 1983/1984, followed by another referendum, and once again THE PEOPLE SAID NO. Not content with the wishes of the majority, politicians and others used the same arguments to force another trial period in 1991/1992, followed by yet another referendum, and once again THE PEOPLE SAID NO.
If a majority consistently vote NO to something, three times over three decades, shouldn’t that be the end of the matter? Our elected representatives don’t think so, at least not when they won’t accept NO as the answer. Despite public opposition, and using the same tired arguments that didn’t hold before, our politicians have decided amongst themselves to impose yet another trial of daylight saving upon us, starting next week. The previous one-year trials didn’t get the result they wanted, so this time we’re getting a three-year trial, in the hope that we’ll just get used to it. The referendum to follow in 2009 will take place in the dark winter months when the summer heat is a memory - presumably to maximise the yes vote.
A letter I read in a newspaper compared it with rape … like a man wanting to have his way with a woman, getting three refusals, then going ahead anyway in the hope that she will eventually get to like it. Western Australian politicians may not be rapists, or fit the definition of dictators, but their imposition of daylight saving against the proven will of those they represent doesn’t fit the definition of democracy either.
In case you’re wondering - our reluctance to embrace daylight saving is largely due to the excessive heat that accompanies daylight in our summers. Of Australia’s eight states and territories, the five coolest have daylight saving, and the three hottest don’t, and this is no coincidence. Most countries near the equator do not have daylight saving; in fact it is observed in only 70 of the world’s approximately 200 countries (and only in parts of some of those), by only 1/6 of the world’s population (details here).