10 Jan 2020

'This is not the year': Canberra cancels fireworks

11:13 am on 10 January 2020

The Australian Capital Territory and its neighbouring town of Queanbeyan have cancelled this year's fireworks displays.

Fireworks light the sky over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney.

New Year's Eve fireworks went ahead in Sydney despite a total fire ban in New South Wales and other states of Australia. Photo: AFP

The pyrotechnics are usually set off at music concerts during the holiday celebrations in both places.

While the concerts will go ahead, the events will now focus on raising money for people affected by the New South Wales bushfire crisis, which has ravaged the region.

The ACT's Acting Arts Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, said the display was ruled out because of the harsh summer conditions and the ongoing fire disaster.

"While our neighbours continue to battle bushfires, and with our emergency services personnel on alert and unpredictable weather in the weeks ahead, this is not the year for us to celebrate with fireworks," Stephen-Smith said.

"Rather, Australia Day is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the many Australians who are currently engaged in efforts to reduce the harm and trauma caused by bushfires this season."

The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, which governs an area affected by two huge blazes, announced earlier it would also withdraw its planned fireworks.

"Instead, funds will be put towards a donation to bushfire relief," the council said in a statement.

Late last month, the ACT government cancelled Canberra's New Year's Eve fireworks, which would have coincided with a total fire ban.

However, the country's biggest end-of-year display, in Sydney Harbour, went ahead in similar circumstances despite widespread criticism that it posed a fire risk.

Hot, windy conditions return

Meanwhile, firefighters in south-east Australia are on alert today, with temperatures in some areas forecast to climb above 40 degrees Celsius.

Hot, dry winds are also expected to return after several days of respite and cooler weather.

A total fire ban has been declared for today.

Bushfires near Mount Morgan and Adaminaby are now less than 10 kilometres from the ACT's southern border.

However, ACT Emergency Services Commissioner Georgeina Whelan said the fires did not pose an immediate danger to homes and were not expected to enter the ACT.

"Our aim is for them not to, which is why we're working with New South Wales on fighting the fires now and also using the large aerial tankers to air bomb those fires," she said yesterday.

The thick bushfire smoke that has blighted Canberra recently is expected to stay for several more days.

Sun rises over the bushland of Cooma hill resort, some 114 kilometres south of Canberra on January 4, 2020. -

The sun rises over the bushland of Cooma hill resort, 114km south of Canberra. Earlier this week, the military helped with evacuations of hundreds of nearby residents due to a large bushfire. Photo: AFP


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