‘Disrespectful’ fireworks must be cancelled
Every New Year's Eve since 1976, Sydney's iconic harbour has been lit up by an increasingly expensive fireworks spectacular - but this year, the only option I can see is to cancel it completely.
There shouldn't even be an argument. It's the only decision that makes any sense at all.
How inappropriate and insensitive would it be to see a sky full of manufactured smoke as fires continue to burn on the ground?
What a sign of disrespect to the thousands of Australians who have been affected by our catastrophic fires.
No. It's time to show the world we do have empathy and a conscience and give the fireworks a rest - for this year at least.
I know this view won't go down well with many people, but considering the ordeal parts of our nation have been through in the past few weeks, the idea of a mega celebration with fireworks - particularly as we march into a new decade - seems highly disrespectful.
I realise this is no small decision. Putting something like the Sydney New Year's Eve celebrations together isn't easy - there's production staff, security and many hours of tireless work from hospitality businesses as they gear up for one of the biggest nights of the year.
At least $100 million flows into our economy because of the tourists the spectacle attract.
I get that. I really do. But the irony of celebrating with fire and smoke shouldn't be lost on anyone.
I started a conversation about this very subject on my social media channels and have never had such an extreme reaction. Overwhelmingly, people agree with me - it's time to ditch them.
Others have been concerned about the businesses that will be affected if they don't go ahead and to be honest, only a handful have been 100 per cent sure that, yes, they should go ahead.
Sorry, I'm not budging. I just don't think they should happen and 175,000 others agree - that's how many people have signed a change.org petition calling for the fireworks to be cancelled and the money (last year's fireworks show cost $5.8 million) be diverted to farmers and firefighters.
That's not to say we can't have a nice, respectful celebration. A Vivid-style light show would still give partygoers a reason to march into the city for a great night out, without making a mockery of the current bushfire plight.
Let's face it, Sydney isn't exactly light-on in the fireworks department. There will be plenty of other opportunities to hear and see the snap, crackle, bang and boom of crackers another time. But this isn't the time.
For some reason, the lyrics of the late David Bowie's song Cat People - "putting out fire with gasoline" - come to mind. Kind of weird to celebrate with fire, while our terra firma burns.
Imagine how it would look on the international stage - we've already had major global media write and dissect our bushfire catastrophe. What will they think when they see we're voluntarily letting a whole lot more smoke into our skies?
City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has rejected calls to have the fireworks cancelled in light of the bushfire crisis, describing the event as a "symbol of hope".
"We will harness the enormous power of the event to raise more money for the Australian Red Cross' Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund," Ms Moore has told the media.
But Ms Moore has said that if the fires worsen and a state of emergency is declared, it is possible the event may not go ahead.
"We've always known that rain doesn't put fireworks off, wind does. So, we would have to make a decision at the time," Ms Moore told The Daily Telegraph.
"We could still have the wonderful lighting and all the wonderful things we have on the harbour even if we cannot do the fireworks."
A just-as-effective light show and even a huge fundraising concert could take the place of the plumes of smoke that will festoon the sky after the two fireworks sessions.
While the Australian fireworks are some of the first and best that are seen around the world, I honestly don't think the world will think any less of us if we forgo them this year, in light of our fire devastation.
I think it would actually make Australia look like we really do give a stuff by making a no-fireworks statement, essentially practising what most of us are currently preaching.
Continue the conversation on Twitter @melissahoyer