City of Cockburn may save Australia Day fireworks

City of Cockburn may save Australia Day fireworks

COCKBURN could yet save the Australia Day fireworks which have crackled over the Indian Ocean for close to a decade.

The City of Cockburn was forced to consider hosting the annual event after neighbouring council Fremantle voted to abandon its show in 2017.

In a report to Cockburn councillors on last night, a City officer recommended the City not spend $205,000 to take on the fireworks.

But councillors instead voted to back an alternative from Cr Kevin Allen, who called for a new report into the feasibility of the City hosting the event in 2018.

The report is due in April and Cr Allen is keen to see that report outsourced.

“I’m not arguing whether we should or should not take over the Fremantle cracker night but I feel the officer’s report is lacking in details and appears written solely for the purpose to say no, it’s all too hard,” Cr Allen said.

“The report does not present enough ways for Council to proceed with an Australia Day fireworks display should Council ultimately resolve to support such an event.

“I believe a more detailed and comprehensive report needs to be presented to Council before it makes its final decision whether to host such an event or not.”

The report before councillors suggested it would be “imprudent to develop a fireworks event in Cockburn for 2017” due to costs, environmental impacts, minimal economical benefits, a lack of support from the City’s Aboriginal Reference Group and because the City already hosts a morning barbecue event.

But Cr Allen said many of the issues addressed in the officer’s report were not exclusive to the City of Cockburn and had been managed elsewhere.

“Given the huge popularity of the fireworks night, it is beholden on us on behalf of our ratepayers to investigate all issues fully and comprehensively, so as to ensure that those of our ratepayers that do not wish to battle traffic and drag their families into Perth and relish the prospect of a locally accessible event are not denied that pleasure due to a report that to me is one-sided and lacking in the full details requested,” he said.

The event in Fremantle was scrapped after the port city council deemed the event, among other reasons, to be culturally insensitive to indigenous Australians.

Cockburn’s report had mentioned the City’s Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) was consulted and found to be unsupportive of Cockburn taking on the event.

But one ARG member who spoke on Thursday night said the group had received only a “last-minute email”.

Cockburn’s community services manager Rob Avard defended the officer behind the report, saying she had gone out of her way to ensure there was some level of consultation with the ARG.

The report was called for by Mayor Logan Howlett at the August 11 council meeting.

“Granted it wasn’t as good as it normally would be,” Mr Avard said.

“We would normally take these matters to the group.

“But given the time constraints, we did what we believed was the next best thing and that was to at least be in contact and get feedback and that was delivered in the report.”

Cr Lee-Anne Smith called for the ARG to be considered at the forefront rather than “at the last minute” of any future report.