By JEREMY SOLLARS
IN what may be the most optimistic move in Queensland's political history, a new party is targeting Warwick and the Southern Downs in its drive to bring in daylight saving.
Despite only 20 per cent of voters here saying "yes" in a 1992 referendum, Daylight Saving For South East Queensland (SEQ) Party founder Jason Furze confirmed yesterday they were on the hunt for a candidate to run in the state election late next year for our seat of Southern Downs.
The self-proclaimed "single-issue" party is on the verge of formally registering itself, with Mr Furze claiming to have at least the required 500 members ready to sign up and more to come, just as the southern states prepare to move their clocks forward an hour on Sunday.
Mr Furze whose party claims it will run candidates in 67 seats across SEQ next year says he is undeterred by Premier Anna Bligh's seemingly iron-clad vow earlier this year never to hold another referendum on daylight saving. "There are 800,000 more Queenslanders on the electoral roll now than there were back in 1992," Mr Furze said. "We believe public opinion has changed and that these people deserve to have their say."
The Brisbane-based campaigner and finance worker, who says he has never been involved in politics before, conceded his party had not yet done any research on the Downs to test our views on daylight saving.
"To date our research has been in Brisbane and Ipswich and on the Gold Coast but attitudes have changed and a report commissioned by the government itself this year showed 69 per cent of people in the south east want daylight saving," Mr Furze said. "This is a lifestyle issue it's simply about giving people more time to enjoy the sunshine every day."
The party's plan would split Queensland into two time zones for half the year, with the argument being SEQ has the "earliest morning twilight" of any region in the country, sunlight which can be "shifted" to the other end of the day.
Of the 19,749 people who voted in the former seat of Warwick in the 1992 referendum, only 4213 said "yes" to hauling themselves out of bed an hour earlier during the sunnier months.
Southern Downs mayor Ron Bellingham laughed out loud when told the new party had us in its sights.
"Why don't they just start work an hour earlier?" the mayor asked. "Really, time is time and it works on longitude not latitude.
"You can understand that in the southern states they have less exposure to the summer sun, but in Queensland it is a very different story.
"If businesses and their employees want to knock off an hour earlier then they should come to work an hour earlier. "It's not a proposal I would ever support."
Killarney Co-op general manager Pat Brosnan said dealing with customers from both sides of the border presented few hassles during daylight saving months.
"Everyone within 70 or so kilometres of us on the New South Wales side runs on Queensland time anyway, they shop here and they watch Queensland TV, they don't even adjust their watches," Mr Brosnan said.
""People from further afield might call us an hour earlier but there are minimal problems."
Anyone who thinks they can take on daylight saving here and win should register their interest at www.daylightsavingseq.com.au