Sydney’s famous NYE fireworks to go ahead despite outrage

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks going ahead, as the Rural Fire Service says it's unlikely the event will be hampered by a total fire ban. 

The City of Sydney's famous celebrations are expected to attract one million people to the harbour foreshore and generate $130 million for the NSW economy.

Temperatures around the state are expected to peak on Tuesday, with forecasts of more than 40C across western Sydney and in regional NSW.

Some communities have decided to cancel or postpone their fireworks displays, including Armidale in the state's northern tablelands and Huskisson on the state's south coast.

However, the City of Sydney says its fireworks are going ahead as planned.

The fireworks show seen at Sydney Harbour celebrating New Year's Eve in 2018. Source: AAP

"The City of Sydney works closely with NSW government agencies such as the Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Health, NSW Police and Fire and Rescue NSW in the lead-up to the event," a City of Sydney spokesman said in a statement on Sunday.

"If a total fire ban is declared, we will continue to liaise with NSW Government agencies and the NSW Rural Fire Service to determine the safest way to proceed with the event."

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he "can't foresee the Sydney New Year's Eve efforts being compromised by a total fire ban".

The RFS will be working with the Bureau of Meteorology closer to Tuesday, however, a southerly change is expected to impact the Sydney basin about 7pm and move through the region over several hours, Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Firefighters battle the Gospers Mountain Fire at Bilpin. Source: AAP

This will mean hot temperatures and dry, windy conditions will improve, "but we're obviously very mindful of the volatility" of the wind, Mr Fitzsimmons said in Sydney on Sunday. 

"I don't remember a time when we've had total fire bans in place in the greater Sydney region where we haven't been able to accommodate the risk elements for conducting the New Year's Eve fireworks in the in the Sydney Harbour area particularly," he said.

"If there are areas, subject to the prevailing winds ... where materials might drop, we just heighten our level of coverage to ensure a safe and effective New Year's Eve function."

More than a quarter of a million people signed a petition calling for the fireworks to be scrapped, with the funding to be redirected to NSW drought and bushfire relief.

The council says most of the budget had already been spent and cancelling would be of little practical benefit to affected communities.

Cattle gather at drought-stricken Byron Station in northern NSW. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he acknowledged the anxiety around the issue but said in the midst of challenges faced by the country, "subject to the safety considerations, I can think of no better time to express to the world just how optimistic and positive we are."

"I tell you what I really want to acknowledge and that's how wonderful a country Australia is and on New Year's Eve that's what we tell the world with that amazing display about our optimism and our vibrancy," Mr Morrison said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said if the RFS and experts say it's safe for fireworks to go ahead, then they should.

"Sydney is one of the first cities in the world that welcomes in the new year and if it's safe to do so, we should continue to do it as we've done every other year."

Other events across NSW could have higher risk and the RFS is unlikely to give exemptions for backyard permits for fireworks in homes or local parks, Mr Fitzsimmons said.

‘Can’t it be done with lasers?’

It hasn’t proven to be the most popular decision.

On Twitter, people called for the celebrations to be cancelled.

One woman suggested the fireworks be cancelled and Vivid, the annual Sydney light show festival, be moved to December 31.

“I’m not understanding how Sydney Harbour can light up every winter for Vivid with no fireworks in sight but the same thing can’t be done on NYE to minimise bushfire risk,” another woman tweeted.

A technician prepares fireworks on Glebe Island ahead of the 2018 display. Source: AAP

A man questioned whether fireworks were necessary to celebrate NYE.

“Can’t it be done with lasers then donate the money for all who are suffering during these bushfires?” he tweeted.

His thoughts echo a Change.org petition which emerged last month - calling for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to cancel the fireworks shows across the country and donate money to Australia’s farmers coping with drought and those affected by bushfires.

As of Sunday, it has more than 59,000 signatures while another petition has more than 260,000.

With AAP

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