Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore, has called ticketed New Year’s Eve events around the city’s harbour an “outrageous” money-making exercise by the state government.
Of the 51 official harbourside events on the City of Sydney’s website, 19 are ticketed, including at prices as high as $335 – not including alcohol – to watch the fireworks from the Royal Botanic Gardens.
A number of ticketed locations – including Hickson Road reserve in The Rocks and Pirrama Park wharf at Pyrmont – were previously free.
On Monday, Moore said all the ticketed events were on land held by state government agencies.
Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve fireworks spread over 7.5km radius will be a ‘world-first’
“I frankly think that is outrageous that they are trying to make money out of something that we are putting on to bring the community together harmoniously and to celebrate the beauty of our city and our creators,” she said.
“It is about commercialisation and human nature, but I just want to keep stressing, this is meant to be a free event and it is meant to be about bringing the community together.
“We have this amazing multicultural, harmonious community here in the city and all these overseas visitors who for many of them say it is once-in-a-lifetime and others who say they come back again and again, but we don’t think Property New South Wales or the Royal Botanic Gardens should be making money out of a community event on New Year’s Eve.”
The city’s deputy lord mayor, Linda Scott, has criticised the state government for not allowing BYO alcohol at any of the non-ticketed vantage points.
“Our public spaces should be for the public good, and should not be ticketed and restricted for New Year’s Eve,” Scott said.
“Sydney is a magnificent global city, and should have public spaces on New Year’s Eve for people to enjoy a drink and watch the public fireworks for free.
“For Sydney to be a genuinely equitable city for all, access to an affordable and fun night out on New Year’s Eve should be possible. Sadly, under the current Liberal state government, even fun has been privatised.”
On Saturday the New South Wales environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, denied the government was engaged in “privatisation by stealth”.
“There is no privatisation by stealth when there are so many public places that are free for everyone to go and watch the fireworks,” she said.
“We know some families want to ring in the new year in alcohol-free areas and there are many locations around the harbour where that will be the case.”
The $5.78m Sydney New Year’s Eve event will include 8.5 tonnes of fireworks, more than 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects and 35,000 shooting comets.
The theme is the Pulse of Sydney with the display featuring gold, silver and purple pyrotechnics to the music of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, made famous by Aretha Franklin, who died in August.
Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display will this year include 14 tonnes of fireworks, but the city’s lord mayor, Sally Capp, stopped short of saying her city would put on a better show.
“Oh, it is the perennial question. Can I say it will be different? We take a very different approach to Sydney,” she said.
“Firstly, we have about 14 tonnes of fireworks going off this evening, they have 8.5 tonnes, so just in terms of magnitude, ours will be different.
“But we take a very different focus. They take a central point on the bridge which is fantastic, and I think it looks fantastic when you see it on TV, but we take a different approach and that is sharing our fireworks across a much larger area so that more people can see it from a distance, and I think … we’ve made sure that a lot more people can enjoy the fireworks.”
This article was originally published in The Guardian, UK, December 31, 2018