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  • Writer's pictureGrant McLachlan

Ban of fireworks misdirected

For all the reasons to justify banning the public sale of fireworks, it seems that many have missed the point. The issue is primarily where and when fireworks are used and secondly who buys them and why.

Over the years, firecrackers, skyrockets, and Catherine wheels were banned. Age restrictions were implemented (currently 18+). Yet, throughout the country, firefighters and emergency departments are rushed off their feet for the weeks following the four days that fireworks are sold.

The narrow window that fireworks sales are allowed is inane when so many stockpile fireworks to use throughout the year for New Year’s celebrations, birthdays, and weddings.

Many idiots get their buzz from taking risks with lighting fireworks rather than watching a public display. They are also more likely to set off fireworks randomly throughout the year at odd hours to create a nuisance.

Most animal owners have no reasonable way to take preventative measures. On the urban fringe or amongst lifestyle blocks, fireworks around a larger number of predominantly larger animals can have seriously detrimental effects. In built-up residential areas, pets can be left shell-shocked.

Auckland Council’s website is vague on the topic of fireworks-related nuisance. An idiot who decides to let off fireworks at 1am on a Monday morning during Winter for no other reason than waking up the neighbourhood and scaring animals should be fined and have their fireworks confiscated. Yet, from countless examples, Auckland Council lets these idiots off the hook even after multiple warnings.

Auckland Council won’t enforce its existing nuisance bylaws and now wants to ban the sale of fireworks. Guess where idiots will buy them from instead?

The collection of fines is meant to cover the social cost, yet we aren’t seeing them handed out. Instead, the ratepayer subsidises gormless noise abatement officers.

Conversely, a ratepayer-funded public display could reduce the number of noise complaints, especially if there was a total ban on private fireworks use.

The list of reasons why fireworks are sold and why people buy them seems to be shrinking with each year.

Burning Guy Fawkes in effigy on a bonfire (even though he was hung, drawn, and quartered for his role in the Gunpowder Plot) ironically celebrates the plot’s failure to kill King James I. In Canberra, however, fireworks are only allowed to celebrate Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Fireworks were banned twice during the event’s UK history for safety reasons. Today, fireworks aren’t permitted to be set off between 11pm and 7am, except New Year, Bonfire Night (5 November), the Chinese New Year and Diwali.

If the increasing number of public displays fulfil some public need to celebrate this event, then is there an unfulfilled need to sell fireworks to the public? Who are these unfulfilled people?

Should fireworks and those who buy them be stigmatised? The Fire Service and emergency departments certainly think they should be, treated like burnouts and other anti-social behaviour.

So maybe the most effective means to address the social costs of fireworks is to ban their public sale throughout the country because everything else hasn't worked.


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