01/04/2009 - 22:00

Debate hots up ahead of vote

01/04/2009 - 22:00

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City and rural business groups have lined up in their traditional opposing corners as Western Australians prepare for a six-week campaign ahead of the daylight saving referendum on May 16.

City and rural business groups have lined up in their traditional opposing corners as Western Australians prepare for a six-week campaign ahead of the daylight saving referendum on May 16.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has backed former Liberal leader Matt Birney's campaign to convince Western Australians to approve the permanent introduction of daylight saving.

CCI chief executive James Pearson said daylight saving was vital for the future of local business.

"It eliminates the frustration and inconvenience associated with an increased time difference with customers, clients, suppliers and with business and government networks in the eastern states," Mr Pearson said.

But the WA Farmers Federation is opposed to the scheme after calling for an early referendum last year, backed by a petition of 66, 000 Western Australians opposed to changing the clocks.

WAFarmers president Mike Norton will be campaigning against daylight saving in the lead up to the referendum, to ensure people are not "hoodwinked" by what he called a "slick marketing campaign."

"We don't believe that there's really anything in it for WA for a number of reasons," he said.

"Businesses can trade with one another outside time zones, we do have modern technology and a lot of business is done by email and on the internet.

"While some businesses have to talk face to face, in this day and age they're becoming the minority not the majority."

Malz Motoring and Leisure Zone owner Ray Della-Polina said his business could not afford to fall an extra hour behind the east.

"It mightn't sound a lot, but that one hour makes a significant difference, the hour difference basically reduces the availability for contact with your eastern states suppliers, it cuts it in half and makes things difficult," Mr Della-Polina said.

"Anything that puts imposts on business, or makes business more difficult to manage, naturally it must have an effect on profits, and must have an effect on the level of service you can provide to your customers."

But Mr Norton said WAFarmers was most concerned with decreased production in primary industry as a result of daylight saving.

"There's a big disconnect up and down the line for commercial reasons, especially with perishable agricultural items," Mr Norton said.

"If dairy farmers try to come forward to keep in step with the rest of society there's a loss of production.

"It's similar with sheep, if you're a wool producer or a prime lamb producer, sheep won't work in the heat of the day.

"You really can only work livestock in the early part of the day and the latter part of the day."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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