Decision made on Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks display
The world-renowned Sydney Harbour New Year's Eve fireworks display has been approved despite the NSW Rural Fire Service declaring a total fire ban on Tuesday for the city.
Scores of other displays in other parts of Sydney have now been cancelled due to the total fire ban.
The City of Sydney council was forced to apply for an exemption to get the green light for the spectacle on barges and atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge when the clock strikes 12 tomorrow night.
At around 5.30pm today, the RFS announced they would allow the display to proceed.
The government body said it was "assessing a number of other total fire ban exemptions".
On Monday afternoon, Parramatta Council cancelled its New Year's Eve fireworks display in Sydney's west after not being granted an exemption and due to the extreme weather forecast.
It will instead donate $10,000 to the NSW RFS.
City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer said the decision had not been made lightly and apologised on behalf of the council for not being able to deliver the popular event. Wollongong, south of Sydney, has also axed its display.
Very High to Extreme fire danger is forecast across parts NSW tomorrow , 11 areas have been declared under Total Fire Ban.— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 30, 2019
Operators wishing to undertake fireworks displays in an area where a Total Fire Ban has been declared MUST apply for an exemption (https://t.co/Ws3U9yvKld) pic.twitter.com/7meX0zAaiV
The Tuesday night display in Campbelltown, in Sydney's southwest, has also been axed.
"In light of the current extreme bushfire conditions and the fires that continue to sadly burn across our region, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the fireworks at our New Year's Eve event in Koshigaya Park," the council said on its website.
The display may have the green light from officials but a growing online campaign is fighting to cancel all fireworks demonstrations across Australia.
A change.org petition calling to "Say NO to FIREWORKS NYE 2019 - give the money to farmers and firefighters" has gathered more than 272,600 signatures from supporters, who don't want to celebrate the start of 2020 with a fireworks display.
The deputy premier of NSW earlier today expressed his support for shutting down the fireworks display, calling it a "very easy decision". John Barilaro, the NSW leader of the Nationals, said cancelling the display was about a show of unity, as Australia worked through the ongoing bushfire and drought crisis.
"Sydney's New Year's Eve Fireworks should just be cancelled, very easy decision," Barilaro wrote on Twitter.
"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."
Many disagreed with the deputy's comments, saying people were looking forward to the annual fireworks display. Others praised his comments.
NYE organisers have dismissed a campaign to 'say no to fireworks'.
Just one day out from New Year's Eve, a growing online campaign is fighting to cancel all fireworks demonstrations across Australia.
A change.org petition calling to "Say NO to FIREWORKS NYE 2019 - give the money to farmers and firefighters" has gathered more than 268,000 signatures from supporters, who don't want to celebrate the start of 2020 with a fireworks display.
"All states should say NO to FIREWORKS," the petition reads. "This may traumatise some people as there is enough smoke in the air."
According to the petition, $5.8 million was spent in Sydney on its New Year's Eve fireworks display last year.
The campaign proposes that the millions spent this year should instead be allocated to "farmers, firefighters and animal carers".
But Sydney New Years Eve celebration organisers have dismissed suggestions that cancelling the pyrotechnic display would be beneficial to people affected by the ongoing bushfires crisis.
"We know that cancelling the fireworks will have zero practical benefit for those fire-ravaged communities," Tanya Goldberg, the Sydney NYE head of audience told Today this morning.
"The one thing that will help those communities is to go ahead with the event and leverage the power of it to drive people to donate, to demonstrate their generosity by going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund."
"They can go to nye.Sydney/donate and we will be promoting that in the lead up, and that I can do."
When asked if there would be any kind of tribute to the tireless efforts of volunteer fireys during the show, Ms Goldberg said "no".
"There will not be an overt tribute to the firefighters - (creative) plans were put in place months and months and months ago, but we are doing everything to throw our support behind them," she said.
Despite the petition, Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, is expected to give the Sydney New Years Eve fireworks the go-ahead this afternoon, after days of debate and speculation.
He said crews will be working with the pyrotechnics companies, local authorities and government, and the decision will be based on weather and wind patterns on the day.
"We will be weighing up the risks this afternoon with more details on the forecast. I don't envisage a cancellation of the fireworks on account of the total fire bans," he said.
"Any perceived risk will be remediated."
After receiving a firmed-up weather outlook midafternoon on Monday, the NSW RFS will make a final call on Sydney's fireworks, but Commissioner Fitzsimmons said he's "confident, unless something untoward comes out of the forecast", the event will go ahead.
The NSW RFS is working with all parties to finalise exemptions on total fire ban for Sydney City Council, he said.
In many rural and regional areas, where the "risk is very different", total fire ban exemptions haven't been granted for local fireworks celebrations.