Thousands of Australians have signed a petition at change.org to put a stop to the traditional New Year fireworks display that is usually held at the Sydney Harbor Bridge every year. The petition demands that the administration use the funds for helping those in need rather than spending them on “useless” celebrations. It has garnered over 30,000 signatures.
Canceling the fireworks
“With Australia facing drought and now catastrophic fires, decimating towns as it tears across our country, the thought of spending MILLIONS of dollars on a firework display when it could be used to support and rebuild our country instead is infuriating… It’s times like these when we as a nation need to look at our priorities and I believe the new year should be welcomed in the aussie way; by giving our fellow Australians a helping hand!” the petition states.
Prior to the petition, a fireworks display was due to be conducted at the Sydney Harbor Bridge as part of a corporate event. However, the event was axed after many people said they found it to be in “shockingly bad taste” and “wrong on every level” since New South Wales (NSW) was in a week-long emergency due to the catastrophic fires blazing across the region. The fires have consumed over 7,700 square miles of NSW land, damaged hundreds of homes, and sent many people to hospitals.
Last year, the New Year’s fireworks cost US$5.8 million. This year’s extravaganza is expected to cost about the same. It is this money that the petitioners want to be diverted to those affected by the bushfires. While the demand seems noble, what it fails to take into account is that the fireworks attract a large number of tourists and generated close to US$133 million for the local economy last year. Several restaurants, hotels, and cruise operators have already taken advance bookings for this year’s celebration. Banning the upcoming fireworks would deal a huge blow to the businesses in the region.
Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore also believes that it would be in the interest of the people to go ahead with the celebrations. “Cancelling would be of little practical advantage to those who have lost so much in the bush[fires]… We are going through really tough times now and it brings us together to celebrate a new year with hope… It’s a really important time to be together to support each other,” she said to The Sydney Morning Herald.
For this year’s New Year celebrations, the organizers have prepared over eight tons of fireworks that will be launched by 18 computers. These systems will trigger over 100,000 individual effects, creating a stunning sight in the sky. Security for the event has been tightened to avoid any untoward incidents.
“We have no information or intelligence to suggest there’s any specific threat to this year’s event… Over the last few years, it has been a safe event, by and large, behaviour has been excellent, and I expect the same,” Mick Willing, Assistant NSW Police Commissioner, said in a statement (9 News).
The New Year fireworks display in Sydney is often acknowledged as the best in the world. Over a billion people watched last year’s fireworks display through various media channels. Since Sydney has been blanketed by smoke of late, the organizers have tried to cut down the amount of smoke the fireworks will generate during the celebrations.