89pct of public submissions want Auckland ban on private fireworks

There has been overwhelming public support for Auckland Council's attempt to ban backyard fireworks.

On Thursday, the council will vote on whether to ask the Government to ban the public sale of fireworks from retailers. People would still be able to attend public fireworks displays operated by experts.

During public consultation at the end of 2018 it received 7954 public submissions on the proposed ban - and 89 percent were in favour, RNZ reported.

Almost 70 percent of submitters said they were worried about safety aspects, including harm to animals. Other issues of main concern were noise complaints and people stockpiling fireworks.

"Auckland Council is concerned about fires, damage, injury or distress to people and animals that can be caused by setting off fireworks in neighbourhood back yards," Councillor Linda Cooper, chair of the regulatory committee, said in November.

"The public use of fireworks also places pressure on police, fire services and council officers who receive large numbers of complaints in relation to fireworks, especially around Guy Fawkes."

However a prominent fireworks retailer says submission process was skewed and it was a "waste of ratepayers' money".

"People who like them and buy them have no reason to make a submission on this... they don't even know about it!" Bad Boy Fireworks posted to Facebook on Saturday.

This might not be enough to save the public sale of fireworks, as several Councillors have already signalled they back the ban.

"One of the things that our offices are called out to all the time are complaints about fireworks going off at all sorts of times of the evening, and where I'm from, going off in the day where they can't be seen," Efeso Collins told The AM Show last year.

More than 500 people are injured by fireworks every year according to ACC figures, not to mention animals. Last year someone let off fireworks in a duck's mouth. It was found in the carpark at Middlemore Hospital, and had to be euthanised.

"Ultimately this is about public welfare and safety, and it's about people who have got animals and pets. The SPCA came out and publicly stated fireworks are traumatic for animals."

Most Australian states banned private sale and use of fireworks decades ago, and Mr Collins says it's time for New Zealand to catch up and restrict their use to public displays, handled by professionals.

"If you've got public displays, we're going to see a major decrease in the number of people who get hurt."

In an unscientific poll on The AM Show last year, 71 percent expressed support for a total ban on private fireworks.

And nearly 18,000 people signed a petition presented to Parliament seeking to ban the retail sale of fireworks in New Zealand.

But Bad Boy Fireworks says that sales figures show just how fireworks are popular with Kiwis.

"We have facts and figures that show how many fireworks are sold in NZ every year, and around 1/3 of households purchase a box of fireworks!" it posted to Facebook.

"Maybe it is time to put a petition in all fireworks stores around the county and show the government just how many people actually do love fireworks, and enjoy and evening in their backyard with their family."

Newshub.

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