27/03/2007 - 22:00

A compromise on summer time

27/03/2007 - 22:00


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Two weeks ago I had to make a presentation to a sizeable group of businesspeople.

Two weeks ago I had to make a presentation to a sizeable group of businesspeople.

Towards the end of my talk I asked for a brief show of hands on the subject of daylight saving.

It wasn’t the split – roughly 50-50 from where I stood – that surprised me, but the general uproar that it created as the ayes and the nays verbally jousted.

It took a little way to calm things down before I could carry on.

While such a move is typical of the media – lob a hand grenade and then watch from the sidelines as the fallout continues – the result did surprise me.

I am sure that much of the banter was good-hearted, but it was also heartfelt.

There is little room for compro-mise on this subject because daylight saving affects people personally.

If shifting the clocks forward doesn’t affect you positively then it tends to be negative. There are very few neutrals on this subject, believe me, I’ve been asking people for some time – young, old and in between.

While this paper has supported the move in general terms because the feeling was that business wanted it, the past summer has eroded that argument somewhat.

After a fourth summer experiment, lot of businesspeople see major downsides in the shift despite the alignment it brings with the east coast.

The arguments are numerous and generally well known when it comes to the personal side of things, but it’s tough to find many people who really can list major advantages, outside industries such as stock broking, which has its market timing decided by Sydney.

However, whether it’s two or three hours difference with the east coast has limited impact on most of us. Due to the Western Australian focus of this newspaper, I have few direct business relationships with the east coast, but I’ve discovered it doesn’t make a heap of difference whether the time has changed or not.

This week, one of our Sydney-based online service providers decided to close their service down for maintenance at 5.30pm eastern standard time. That was 3.30pm here and it really sent our own service delivery into a spin. In this age of mobile phones, direct lines and IT workers doing flexi-time, we ultimately managed to fix the issue. No doubt the problem would have been the same even without daylight saving.

I have also picked up feedback that the one-hour time change with Singapore and other Asian centres, while a small shift, has created more issues there, where people have never previously had to be concerned with watching the clock.

The backflipping of politicians on this subject will do nothing to convince the public it was a good idea.

And while the yays and the nays may struggle to compromise, one of our letter writers this week echoes an idea we bandied around our own office a week ago – maybe next year we could change the clocks by half an hour.

That would be a compromise!


Fallout from AFL allegations

The subject of players’ alleged drug use and other scandals emerging from the West Coast Eagles camp has really got tongues flapping everywhere.

Even at a business publication the news is so keenly sought after by our subscribers that it’s hard to ignore.

Which prompts me to wonder…what is the business case for such an issue?

First and most obvious is the brand damage that occurs at three levels – the personal, the club. and the sponsors.

The individuals risk burning their future earnings capacity – though notoriety is not always bad, just ask Mark ‘Chopper’ Read.

The club risks current and future income and profitability in myriad ways, from the threat of losing sponsors immediately to the prospect that losing key players might damage its on-field performance and, inevitably, impact on membership and sponsorship in the future.

Sponsors risk wasting money they have spent creating an association, as well as obvious negatives that may now come from that association.

Those are the key reasons I see to claim an interest in this subject from a business perspective, though most readers would admit their interest is as voyeuristic as any other news consumer.

Much has been written on this subject during the past week; in my view that focus has been inversely proportional to its real importance.


Tourism target

One comment that leapt out at me from last week’s tourism lunch was the suggestion by Kate Lamont that we need to target high-end tourists.

I was reminded of something I recently learned in Florida, home of one of the Disney theme parks. Tourism there has grown the economy hugely, but has presented a big problem.

The average employee in the industry earns about $US23,000, while the state needs employees to earn about $US29,000 to cover the cost of the public services. That means each tourism employee is subsidised by about $US6,000 per head. Florida’s answer is to attract more industries with better pay.

In Western Australia, we already have the high-income industries, we don’t want to dumb that down.

High-end tourists typically use services that require better paid staff. These visitors are also more likely to do business here, so let’s focus on them.


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