- Canberra has cancelled its New Year’s Eve fireworks amid the total fire ban in the ACT.
- Sydney is still going ahead with its fireworks, with Sydney Council saying banning them “would have little practical benefit for affected communities.”
- However, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has said he is against the fireworks going ahead.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Canberra has cancelled its New Year’s Eve fireworks amid the total fire ban in the Australian Capital Territory. The ACT government enforced the total fire ban – where ACT residents are banned from lighting or using fires in open air – from Monday 30 December until 6 am Wednesday 1 January 2020.
Events ACT confirmed the fireworks cancellation on Twitter but said the New Years event itself will go ahead.
Fireworks at the NYE in the City event have been
cancelled due to the Total Fire Ban. At this stage the event will
go ahead but Events ACT will continue to monitor weather and smoke haze
conditions on a daily basis and advise of any changes to plans at https://t.co/GmJ8kxARWW pic.twitter.com/iPC0SjjUE9
— Events ACT (@EventsACT) December 29, 2019
Canberra’s stance comes amid a debate in Sydney over whether the major New Year’s Eve fireworks should be cancelled.
A change.org petition called “Say NO to FIREWORKS NYE 2019 give the money to farmers and firefighters” was created to gain supporters against the fireworks.
The petition aimed for 300,000 signatures and had achieved more than 270,000 at the time of writing.
Government members have also chimed on the ban, with Deputy Premier of New South Wales John Barilaro saying on Twitter the fireworks should be axed because of the risks.
Sydney’s New Years Eve Fireworks should just be canceled, very easy decision. The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted RFS volunteers. If regional areas have had fireworks banned, then let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together.
— John Barilaro MP (@JohnBarilaroMP) December 29, 2019
But despite the push to ditch the glitzy fireworks, the City of Sydney Council said in a statement that cancelling them “would have little practical benefit for affected communities.”
“We began preparations and planning for the NYE celebrations 15 months ago. This means most of the budget, largely used for crowd safety and cleaning measures, has already been spent,” the council said on its website.
“Cancelling the event would seriously hurt Sydney businesses. It would also ruin plans for tens of thousands of people from across the country and overseas who have booked flights, hotels and restaurants for New Year’s Eve.”
The council added that it donated $620,000 to support communities and wildlife affected by bushfires and drought. It is also supporting the Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief Fund.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also supported the fireworks going ahead as long as it was safe to do so.
“Sydney is one of the first cities in the world welcoming in the New Year,” she said according to the ABC. “If it is safe to do so, we should continue to do it as we have done every other year.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also appeared to back the fireworks. According to The Australian, he said, “On New Year’s Eve, the world looks at Sydney, every single year. They look at our vibrancy, they look at our passion, they look at our success.”
Morrison added in the report that, “subject to safety considerations, I can think of no better time to express to the world just how optimistic and positive we are.”
However, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons wouldn’t be opposed to shutting down the fireworks at the last minute if it becomes “too risky”.
“The pyrotechnics organisations and local authorities are used to working with us around exemptions in the summer period, whether it is Christmas, New Year or some other event,” he said in the ABC report.
“They know the arrangements, the procedures, and we will work through to make sure that risk is appropriately addressed and, where necessary, we won’t allow them to go ahead.”
According to the City of Sydney Council, Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are watched by 1 billion people around the world and the event generates $130 million for the NSW economy.
With New Year’s Eve kicking off on Tuesday, the Bureau of Meteorology said there would be extreme and severe fire danger ratings across NSW.
Tuesday is looking like another potentially trying day on some of the fire grounds, with #Extreme #Severe & Very High #Fire Danger Ratings across much of #NSW https://t.co/t4ve8lJjos. Also looking at a warm day for people heading out early ahead of New Years celebrations pic.twitter.com/lP4YhkYuwp
— Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales (@BOM_NSW) December 29, 2019
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