Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fireworks, going off

So there's a great deal of natter on the social sites about cancelling the Australia Day fireworks. People are excited by the concept of taking the millions of dollars that go up in smoke and giving that to flood victims instead. A noble ideal, on the surface, but these people are naively under the misapprehension that whenever the fireworks are presented, that our local government is donating a selfless gift to the community.

They're not.

For one thing, that money doesn't all go up in smoke. A great deal of it pays for the expertise of the companies that organise the event. The actual incendiary devices will only be a fraction of that cost. And it's not millions. Riverfire sure does suck the cash away but the Australia Day fireworks routinely come in under the $300,000 mark. With 80,000 people turning up to watch that amounts to less than $4 each. That's a pretty cheap night out even if it is on the government's teat.

So thousands of people come into Southbank to watch the show. All of them filling up the public transport that usually goes half empty on a Saturday night. To deny the public their fireworks denies Southbank their massive influx of customers for that night. If anyone is hurting right now after the floods it is the people whose livelihoods depend on commerce at Southbank. You'd actively take from them their one chance to make back some of the losses from this horrible disaster?

I can only do so much without the government's help.

Now don't get me wrong. There are some negatives. Many restaurants away from Southbank have trouble getting custom when there's free entertainment on offer and woe betide anyone who's trying to put on some sort of theatre show that night. (I've had first hand experience with that one)

But of course there's the spillover effect. People who seldomly head out to get a taste of our great south-east are tempted by the long weekend and the free entertainment. A small portion of those people, with their newly aquired taste of adventure, will endeavour to head out more often, thus stimulating the economy.

The government don't just burn the cash up. It's an injection of cash that pays for itself almost immediately.

But the reason that this campaign has gained support so quickly is because it's easy. It only requires that you sacrifice something you didn't want anyway. There's only one problem.

Sitting there on the internet getting indignant about the cost of fireworks is about as helpful as putting one of those badges on your Twitter avatar. It allays your guilt without you actually having to sacrifice anything at all. Maybe you should take the amount you were already planning on donating to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal and add your allotted fireworks budget of $3.60 to the amount. Then you can go and enjoy the fireworks totally guilt free.


  1. Hmmmm, good points Dan. As always, trickier than it seems.

    Now excuse me. I'm off to change my avatar. ;)


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