Peter Williams: Don't let the fireworks fun fizzle out

Opinion 28/02/2019
Fireworks. Photo: Getty.

By Peter Williams, Magic Talk Mornings host.

OPINION: I don’t know whether it’s a case of a concerted effort by a bunch of activists or whether it genuinely represents the feelings of the people of Auckland, but I find it quite remarkable that 90 percent of the submissions about a total ban on the private sale and use of fireworks were in favour of it.

In other words, 9 out of ten Aucklanders agree we cannot buy a few rockets or crackers or any of those fizzy, spinning things to let off on Guy Fawkes night. Those submissions have gone to Auckland Council, the council is likely to vote for a ban based on the submissions received and then Auckland Council will tell central government that there should be a complete ban on the sale and private use of fireworks all year round.

The more you think about that number - 90 percent - it would seem the anti-fireworks activists have climbed on the bandwagon and written their submissions and bombarded the council. The main reason it seems is that animals get scared of fireworks - which is true - and that a ban on their sale will be good for the vulnerable pets and other livestock.

Now I don’t hold a candle for the fireworks fans - if you’ll excuse the pun, and in fact when I was working in breakfast television and needed to get up really early, having fireworks exploding in your neighbourhood for a few days early November every year was never very conducive to getting a decent night’s sleep.

But I get it that some people like to have some fun and after all the fireworks accidents of 25 years or so ago, I thought we had reached a sensible compromise - fireworks are on sale four days a year - from November 2 to November 5.

Now most of those fireworks are let off in those days, there are a few more explosions in the days afterwards and some people stock up for other times of the year like New Years.

But in general, having a very limited sale time for fireworks in New Zealand is sensible and in the main seems to work pretty well.

More to the point, there’s never been - in my knowledge anyway - a huge outcry against the use of private use of fireworks for a few days a year. But now we have this remarkable situation whereby Auckland council call for submissions on a possible complete ban, and there’s nearly 8000 submissions received, 90 percent of which are in favour of a complete ban.

I smell a rat here.

Democracy and public consultation is all very well, but have 90 percent of Aucklanders ever agreed on anything?

Has the anti-fireworks, pro-animal lobby organised itself so brilliantly that they’ve got this overwhelming result in front of council which can only do what the public says and ask central government for a complete ban.

The answer it seems is yes.

But I can see consequences here. If there is a complete ban on the private sale and use of fireworks, then what will happen is what always happens when you ban something. There will be underground, black market, illegal - whatever you want to call them - sales of fireworks and it will be for much more than just the few days around Guy Fawkes every spring.

So Auckland Council - maybe you should think about that.

Think about unintended consequences of banning something completely. Let the fun go on for a few days a year at least.

Peter Williams is host of Magic Talk Mornings.