AN attempt to snuff out Australia Day fireworks in Bassendean has been quashed – for next year, at least.
A recommendation from the Town’s People Services Committee to end the pyrotechnic celebration at Ashfield Reserve came before council on April 24.
Members of the public, who supported the fireworks, spoke during question time with queries of why the committee would come to such a suggestion.
One speaker, former councillor Mike Lewis, referred to the council as going “loco” like Fremantle.
His concerns were somewhat abated when Councillor Jai Wilson put forward an alternative motion to continue the display for at least the next year.
His motion passed with support from Mayor Renee McLennan and Cr Melissa Mykytiuk.
Crs Sarah Quinton, Kathryn Hamilton and John Gangell were against it.
Cr Gangell was a strong supporter of the fireworks but disagreed with a point in the motion that recommended council continue discussing Australia Day as a day that brings people together rather than divides the community.
The former mayor considered this too political and not the role of council.
Cr Wilson admitted he did not support the date of Australia Day, but supported the continuation of the fireworks on January 26 because that was what the majority of the community wanted.
His decision was based on a community survey that supported the fireworks.
“I have decided that it is incumbent on me to give more weight to the results of the community survey than I give to my own personal views on the matter,” he said.
But he still wanted to make his political view on Australia Day clear and went as far as suggesting that his university degree allowed him to have a more worldly view on the matter than those without a tertiary education.
“I have been fortunate enough to study history and anthropology at university, but I understand that the vast majority of Australians have not,” he said.
“The people who were taught a very shallow and inaccurate primary school version of Australia’s history will need time and compassion and understanding to arrive at the conclusions that I have.”
Cr Gangell criticised the comments as “condescending”.
He said anyone who looked to bring the political discussion of Australia Day to council “should be sacked”.
“Council should get on with their role and not politically protest,” he said.
Councillors were at pains to emphasise their opinion on the fireworks was not about politics.
Cr Quinton said it was about costs, with projections estimating the fireworks event could eventually cost the Town $200,000.
She referred to the troubled state of the Bassendean Child Health Centre saying it was “incredulous” to spend money on such an event when “mothers have to sit on the floor to look after babies”.
“The more we continue to throw money at this event, the less we are going to have for real services in our community,” she said.
Ms McLennan acknowledged the financial concerns and said the event would be reviewed year on year.
Cr Mykytiuk thought Cr Wilson’s motion struck a “really good balance” because it considered those who had an alternative perspective.
Cr Hamilton wanted Cr Wilson’s motion to include strategies for increasing revenue from the fireworks display, but Cr Wilson denied the amendment.