Opinion Number. 1621


Daylight Saving
power of commonwealth to introduce daylight saving in peacetime

Key Legislation

Daylight Saving Act 1916: Daylight Saving Repeal Act 1917

J. L. Price Esq., M.P.

I refer to your letter of the 11th November, 1937, in which you request information concerning a proposal that a Daylight Savings Bill should be enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament.

In 1916, the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Daylight Saving Act 1916, which was proclaimed to commence on 1st January, 1917. In pursuance of the Act, daylight saving was in operation from that date until the last Sunday in March, 1917 and was to recommence on the last Sunday in September, 1917. It did not recommence on that date, as the Daylight Saving Repeal Act 1917, which repealed the Daylight Saving Act 1916, came into operation on 25th September, 1917.

The reason for the repeal appears to have been that the scheme did not win popular approval. Further information on this aspect can be obtained by reference to Hansard reports of the debates on the repealing Bill.

The Daylight Saving Act 1916 was a war time measure, expressed to continue in force for the duration of the war and six months thereafter, but no longer. At that time its validity could, no doubt, have been supported under the defence powers of the Commonwealth. It has been judicially recognised that measures which in time of war are measures of defence may not be so regarded in time of peace, and I refer you to Farey v. Burvett, 21 C.L.R. 433 for a discussion of the limits of the defence powers in time of peace and in time of war.

I think it is very doubtful whether the Commonwealth Parliament could enact such a measure at the present time.

[Vol. 30, p. 498]

(1) John Lloyd Price (1882–1941). Federal Member for Boothby (Australian Labor Party; United Australia Party from 1931) 1928–1941.