Sydney’s popular New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been given the go ahead despite widespread calls to cancel this year’s event.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro earlier added his voice to the dissenters, saying the extravaganza should not proceed on Tuesday night.
Mr Barilaro echoed calls from 250,000 people who’ve signed a petition seeking the Sydney fireworks to be scrapped and funds redirected to drought and bushfire relief.
“The risk is too high and we must respect our exhausted RFS volunteers,” he said.
“If regional areas have had fireworks banned, then let’s not have two classes of citizens. We’re all in this crisis together,” he said on social media.
However the NSW Rural Fire Service on Monday afternoon confirmed it had granted an exemption to the pyrotechnics display.
“The Sydney Harbour fireworks have been approved to proceed tomorrow,” the NSW RFS tweeted.
“The NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW are assessing a number of other Total Fire Ban exemptions.”
The Sydney Harbour fireworks have been approved to proceed tomorrow.
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) December 30, 2019
A cool change in Melbourne means the city will also proceed with its New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations.
Despite an extremely hot lead up, Melbourne is expected to reach 43C on Monday before dropping to a forecast maximum of 21C on New Year’s Eve.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp says the city’s annual fireworks show is safe to hold because of the cooler conditions.
In NSW, temperatures around the state are expected to peak on Tuesday, with forecasts of more than 40C across western Sydney and in regional NSW.
Parramatta, Armidale and Huskisson are among suburban and regional councils that have cancelled or postponed their fireworks displays due to elevated fire risks.
“The safety of our community and general public is important to us and it was decided that the event could not proceed without compromising this safety,” the City of Parramatta said on Facebook on Monday afternoon.
New Year’s Eve in Parramatta Park has been cancelled due to the risk of extreme heat, dry conditions and strong wind…
Meanwhile, North Sydney Council will not allow the forested headland Balls Head Point to be used as a vantage point for the famed display on the capital’s harbour.
However, City of Sydney spokeswoman Tanya Goldberg says the council is of the “firm view” the event should proceed.
The city’s famous celebrations are expected to attract one million people to the harbour foreshore and generate $130 million for the NSW economy.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said if the RFS and experts say it’s safe for fireworks to go ahead, then they should.
Sydney, the Hunter, the Illawarra are among more than half of all NSW fire districts subject to a total fire ban on Tuesday.
The ban means the RFS must exempt any operators wishing to undertake fireworks displays.
The fire authority has also warned residents to shelve any private fireworks plans.
NSW Police assistant commissioner Michael Willing said the harbour fireworks were not a matter for police to determine.
He encouraged revellers to take care in the heat and remain hydrated, and said police would work alongside emergency services such as NSW Ambulance.
Some 3000 police officers will be on duty around the harbour foreshore.