Calls To Cancel 'Riverfire' Fireworks Display Amid Bushfire Emergency
There are growing calls online to cancel an annual fireworks display in Brisbane, as bushfires continue to batter the state. But others aren't convinced.
The 'Sunsuper Riverfire' spectacle marks the end of the three-week Brisbane Festival and has been running for 21 years.
It's scheduled to go ahead on September 28, and is expected to attract over half a million spectators.
This year, the event has coincided with a horror bushfire season -- one that authorities said has never been as severe so early into spring.
Multiple bushfires continue to burn across large parts of southern Queensland, and a total fire ban remains in place.
With this, some members of the public want to see the show axed. A change.org petition has been set up, calling on Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner to step in, and for money to instead be directed to affected communities.
"With the kick Mother Nature has dished out to regional and rural Queensland since the beginning of the year, I believe there is greater need in the state than a night of extravagant fireworks," Lauren Darwin, who started the petition, wrote.
"Wouldn't it be amazing if Brisbane Riverfire was cancelled for 2019 and the astronomical amount of money that is wasted on fireworks donated to rural communities that are struggling to survive?
"Why does a Brisbane city need a thing like Riverfire with all this devastation upon us?"
Darwin wrote there are more worthy causes "than an evening of fireworks", suggesting the money spent on the display should go towards supporting fire-affected animals and firefighters "who risked their lives to save others".
At time of writing, the petition has about 200 signatures, and has been shared widely on social media.
"Totally agree!! Great idea," one person wrote on Facebook.
"I can't love this enough," said another.
But others disagreed, saying the idea had "the best of intentions" but would hurt the local economy.
"The event is a life blood for many businesses and provides a lot of spin-off businesses which feeds our local economy and allows our funds to be redistributed," one person wrote.
A festival spokesperson told 10 daily the event is a "great unifier" and a "much-loved community event" that is more important in times of adversity.
"For many within our community, Sunsuper Riverfire is an annual calendar highlight. For many businesses, big and small, from local butchers to bars and restaurants lining the river, it’s one of their major events of the year," the spokesperson said, in a statement.
"It’s vital that community morale for civic events continues in challenging times."
The statement said festival organisers recognise 'Riverfire' as an opportunity to raise funds for the GIVIT 2019 Queensland Bushfire Appeal.
"We are exploring options in relation to collecting donations from the public at the event on the day," it said.
The festival has already taken steps to respond to the bushfire emergency, acting on advice from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) to postpone an earlier event called 'Fire Gardens' by one week.
The outdoor event features "huge spheres of leaping flames" and "fiery urns" by French artists Compagnie Carabosse. Given the current total fire ban across South East Queensland, it will now take place between September 18 and September 21, subject to further advice from QFES.
In an earlier statement, Brisbane Festival Chair Paul Spiro said the festival is "sensitive to the anguish" of those who have lost their homes and livelihoods in the bushfires.
The festival has contacted all ticket holders informing them of the new date and arrangements.
Brisbane Lord Mayer Adrian Schrinner said he supported the festival's decision on 'Fire Gardens', in line with "keeping residents safe".
"The safety of Brisbane's residents is our first priority and due to current conditions, we are support of Brisbane Festival's position on this," he said.
"Our thoughts are with the Queenslanders affected by ongoing bushfires and I thank our firefighters and emergency service workers for their commitment to protecting communities."
10 daily has contacted Schrinner for his position on the 'Riverfire' event, and is yet to hear back.
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