Standard Time Amendment (Co-ordinated Universal Time) Bill



About this Item
SubjectsDaylight Saving
SpeakersRoozendaal The Hon Eric; Clarke The Hon David
BusinessBill, Second Reading, Motion


    STANDARD TIME AMENDMENT (CO-ORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME) BILL
Page: 14440


    Second Reading

    The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL (Parliamentary Secretary) [6.11 p.m.]: I move:

    That this bill be now read a second time.

    I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

    Leave granted.

    The Standard Time Amendment (Co-ordinated Universal Time) Bill 2005 amends the New South Wales Standard Time Act 1987 to replace references to Greenwich Mean Time with Co-ordinated Universal Time.

    Co-ordinated Universal Time has replaced Greenwich Mean Time as the international time standard.

    There is a fundamental difference between the ways in which time is measured under these two time scales. I would like to outline this briefly for the information of Honourable Members.

    Greenwich Mean Time is a solar time scale, based upon the rotation of the Earth. Each new day is defined as beginning "at the moment of mean midnight on the prime meridian of longitude," which runs through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. This definition was agreed to at the International Meridian Conference in 1884.

    However, scientists and technologists recognise the considerable drawbacks of measuring time based on the erratic motion of the Earth, the rate of which fluctuates by a few thousandths of a second a day.

    By contrast, Co-ordinated Universal Time is maintained by highly accurate atomic clocks and is accurate to approximately a nanosecond (or one billionth of a second) per day.

    The use of Co-ordinated Universal Time was strongly endorsed in 1975 by the 15th General Conference on Weights and Measures. The Metre Convention, a diplomatic treaty signed by Australia in 1947, gives authority to General Conference on Weights and Measures to act in matters of world metrology.

    To determine the international standard Co-ordinated Universal Time, the Bureau of Weights and Measures co-ordinates data from atomic clocks located in timing laboratories around the globe, including the Australian National Measurement Institute and US Naval Observatory.

    The Commonwealth National Measurement Act was amended in 1997 to require the Chief Metrologist to maintain Co-ordinated Universal Time, as determined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures.

    In many countries, Co-ordinated Universal Time is distributed by standard radio stations that broadcast time information. Co-ordinated Universal Time is also closely tied to the time scale of the satellite based Global Positioning System.

    We live in a globally connected electronic society. The adoption of the reference to Co-ordinated Universal Time is in keeping with modern scientific practice and is highly significant in terms of modern technical applications requiring accurate synchronization. Examples of such applications include electricity distribution, high-speed computer networks and precise navigation.

    Both business and the community need to be certain about the terminology used in Standard Time legislation and equivalent legislation.

    The Standing Committee of Attorneys General agreed last year to introduce amendments to Standard Time Acts, or equivalent legislation, to define standard time in terms of Co-ordinated Universal Time.

    To avoid confusion and allow sufficient time to facilitate the change to Co-ordinated Universal Time, State and Territory Ministers agreed to adopt the reference to Coordinated Universal Time on a uniform basis.

    Ministers also agreed to commence the relevant amendments to legislation on 1 September 2005. This date is one month prior to the earliest start-up date for beginning of the daylight saving period in 2005.

    Co-ordinated Universal Time is a more precise means of measuring time and is the legal reference time scale for Australia. It is the only time scale supported by a technical infrastructure.

    The proposed legislation updates the New South Wales Standard Time Act to reflect the internationally accepted time standard.

    I commend the Bill to the House.

    The Hon. DAVID CLARKE [6.11 p.m.]: The Standard Time Amendment (Co-ordinated Universal Time) Bill is relatively straightforward and is not opposed by the Opposition. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Standard Time Act 1987 to change standard time from Greenwich Mean Time, known as GMT, to Co-ordinated Universal Time, generally described as UTC. The reason for this is that UTC has replaced GMT as the international standard. The difference between the two time systems is that GMT is a solar time scale based on the rotation of the earth. Each new day is defined as beginning "at the moment of mean midnight on the prime meridian of longitude", which runs through the Royal Observatory situated in Greenwich, England. In contrast, UTC is a time scale maintained by a network of more than 200 atomic clocks around the world.

    To determine the international standard UTC, the Bureau of Weights and Measures co-ordinates data from atomic clocks located in timing laboratories around the globe, including the Australian National Measurement Institute. Whilst GMT varies by a few thousands of a second a day, UTC is accurate to approximately one billionth of a second a day. In November 2004 the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General endorsed the change from GMT to UTC, and it was further agreed to commence the relevant amendments to legislation on 1 September 2005. The change from GMT to UTC is universally endorsed and accepted.

    The use of UTC was confirmed in 1975 by the fifteenth General Conference on Weights and Measures, the body having authority to act in matters of world metrology. On 30 June 1997 the Commonwealth National Measurement Act 1960 was amended to provide that UTC is the time scale that is to be maintained by the Chief Metrologist. The bill sets standard time in New South Wales at 10 hours in advance of UTC—except for Broken Hill, which is set at 9 hours and 30 minutes in advance of UTC, and Lord Howe Island, which is set at 10 hours and 30 minutes in advance of UTC. This is in accordance with existing arrangements. The bill does not make any changes to daylight saving arrangements.

    The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL (Parliamentary Secretary) [6.15 p.m.], in reply: I thank the honourable member for his contribution, and I commend the bill to the House.

    Motion agreed to.

    Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.

    [The Deputy-President (The Hon. Amanda Fazio) left the chair at 6.16 p.m. The House resumed at 8.00 p.m.]