by Deanna Maria R.

A new year and decade has been celebrated with traditional fireworks displays in London, Paris, Sydney, Dubai, Taipei, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, and in New York City. Typically, fireworks are not grounds for protest. Not so in Sydney, Australia, where the mayor had to defend why he gave the go-ahead to shoot off fireworks despite protests. Why, you may ask, were people protesting fireworks to ring in not only a new year but also a new decade? Two words, ‘bushfire crisis’.

Months of drought caused bushfires that are now out of control. The effects of the bushfires are no longer sequestered to just Australian ‘countryside’ but now also city regions. The air quality in Sydney has been greatly affected by the smoke, ash and soot brought on from the raging bushfires. Loss of life and property due to the bushfires are also of great concern and risk to first responders, farmers, and other members of the community. Having a firework display with the ‘bushfire crisis’ out of control gave some cause to wonder why and then a protest was raised about the risks, image, and negative message it would send if it was allowed to go-ahead.

While the Mayor, allegedly, not heeding the protestors calls to cancel the display, he did defend the choice to go-ahead, as was traditional, because ‘it would give people hope’. Protestors thought otherwise. The opposition feared it would send the wrong message and instead of a fireworks display, the protestors wanted the organizers of the event to take the money they paid for the display and donate it to the farmers and service people. The traditional fireworks display went on as scheduled.