Fremantle businesses fear for economy over fireworks fizzer

The 2015 Fireworks display in Fremantle. Picture: City of Fremantle
The 2015 Fireworks display in Fremantle. Picture: City of Fremantle

MILLIONS of dollars could be lost from the local economy without the Australia Day fireworks, |according to Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Olwyn Williams.

Ms Williams said the fireworks were a significant event for Fremantle, dropping more than $2.5 million into the local economy through various industries, something she said was “not usually the case for a public holiday”.

“This event was more than just 30 minutes of fireworks; it was a day where families from across the region came to what was once a vibrant centre,” she said.

Last month the City of Fremantle voted not to continue funding the Australia Day fireworks in 2017, citing a number of financial, environmental and cultural factors for the decision, |including the need to become more culturally sensitive to the indigenous people.

ALSO READ: City of Fremantle cancels Australia Day fireworks

The City still plans to run a number of Australia Day events over an extended four-day celebration period.

Ms Williams said it was more than what was sold on the day, it was about bringing people back to Fremantle.

“In a time when many people don’t need to come to Fremantle and in a time when we need people to come to Fremantle, this event builds the City’s reputation as a great place for families to come to and great positioning for being open for business,” she said.

“The same numbers of people would not be coming to Fremantle just because it is a public |holiday.

“Australia Day is a public holiday with a competitive edge and people do plan to come together, be it for family barbecues or other public events in the metropolitan area.”

The owners of restaurants and cafes along the Fishing Boat Harbour are in discussion over whether to foot the bill for the fireworks themselves, with Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt saying he would not stop them if they wanted to go ahead with their own display.

“It was about offering up a more inclusive way of celebrating being Australian but unfortunately this has been lost in the |debate,” he said.

“We believe there are better, more inclusive event options we can fund than fireworks on Australia Day.”