Last year I was widely reported as being anti-fireworks. This was because of my comments that it was time Territorians grew up. I was responding to a question about the personal use of fireworks on Territory Day.
I am not against the use of fireworks on 1 July; I am against the illegal use for days and weeks after.
I am against the cost of cleaning up the mess that is left all along our foreshore and in our parks. Last year the clean-up cost around $20,000, with the assistance of prisoners. This year it could be much more.
I am against the environmental damage caused as the rubbish is washed off the beaches.
I am against the trauma that is caused to domestic animals. This is a well-recognised consequence, as Council staff now work well into the night rescuing and returning frightened animals.
And let’s not forget the cost of damage to property that fireworks have caused in the past.
Fireworks have changed over the years – they are bigger, louder and arguably more potentially destructive.
I am for a respectful debate on how we can still enjoy the thrill of fireworks in a practical and positive way.
There is no doubt that there are some out there who will violently disagree with me on this topic and fair enough, but I think it has to be said.
The personal use of fireworks on Territory Day is often talked about by supporters as an example of the Territory way of life. “It is our right to let off fireworks.”
Yes, it is our right, but with that right comes responsibility.
I know there are a lot of responsible people out there who say “Why should we be punished because of a few idiots?” And yes, it is true that there are a few idiots who break into houses and trash places, but that isn’t okay so why is this different?
There are some opportunistic retailers obtaining a permit for just one day of the year to sell fireworks without an associated retail business. They would argue they would go broke without Territory Day. Clearly, no one wants to impede business but is this a sustainable business model and in the community interest?
So what is a practical solution?
There is already a restricted time to purchase and a restricted time when fireworks can be let off.
A further control that could be considered is a restricted and controlled space for people to let off their fireworks.
In the urban setting, this could be somewhere like at an oval where the fireworks can be purchased and lit and none can be removed from the venue. Providing a safe and known environment, and by ensuring that no fireworks are taken away for hoarding, avoids the ensuing weeks of illegal fireworks.
My hope is that as a community, we can have a reasonable conversation about this.
I believe together we can work out a way for everyone to enjoy personal fireworks on Territory Day without the detrimental costs to our community.
Let me be clear, this is not about punishing the community.
It is, in fact, about coming together as a community and saying – “Hey, we’re responsible and we support fun and enjoyment for everyone”.