BY LUCINDA GARBUTT-YOUNG
Despite Sydney being weeks away from reopening, this year’s 9pm fireworks have been canned. It is the second time the city will be going digital for the family event.
The City of Sydney Council has been concerned about the large crowds the fireworks generate. Before cancellation, this year’s event was set to have 1.6million attendees.
On August 27, Lord Mayor Clover Moore wrote to the Premier noting that Sydney would only host midnight fireworks, and only centered around Circular Quay.
Council staff feel the decision is in the best interest of public health.
“This format will allow Sydney’s New Year’s Eve event to remain resilient in the face of continuing uncertainty,” said City of Sydney crowd and traffic manager Lauren Schwabe in a leaked email last week.
But Labor Councillors are concerned by the Lord Mayor’s decision, citing the 9pm fireworks as a key way to revive Sydney’s cultural and economic droop.
Councillor Linda Scott, Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidate, said in a release that she didn’t feel like the City’s communities or Council had been consulted about the decision.
“Our local business, particularly those in the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors have been closed for so long and are depending on a healthy, successful NYE to support their employment of staff,” she explained.
New Year’s Eve is the biggest event on Sydney’s calendar. Prior to 2020, it brought in a whopping $130m annually.
And the Lord Mayor’s decision comes at a precarious time for Sydney politics, with elections just months away. Councillor Scott is continuing to challenge the decision as part of her campaign.
“City of Sydney residents are really eager to spend an evening, in a COVID-safe way, looking forward to the new year and celebrating with family and friends,” she told City Hub. “People are able to watch those fireworks right across Sydney… they’re able to be seen so widely that it doesn’t require a dangerous crowd crush around the harbour.”
As Sydney begins to crawl out of lockdown, the 9pm fireworks could be a marker of different political policies.
“I’ve long advocated that the City of Sydney New Years Eve should be a public, not a private event… I know how much Sydney loves New Year’s Eve.”