Territorians who violate the Cracker Night ban will be cracked down upon and slapped with a $1,570 fine, the Northern Territory Police warn.
The ban on firecrackers for this year’s Territory Day means anyone found in simple possession this year is committing a crime, as is lighting off last year’s stash.
“People who are found igniting, discharging, or in possession of fireworks could face a hefty fine,” NT Police Acting Superintendent Adrian Kidney said in a statement.
In April, Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced the cancelling of firework displays and events across the Territory to maintaining crowd and gathering numbers under COVID-19 directions. He also claimed most of the fireworks Territorians purchase come from near the original coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan China, although that has never been verified.
“I know cracker night is sacred to the Territory, it is to me,” Mr Gunner said while announcing the ban. “Some people might be pissed off about this decision and frankly, I did not like making this decision. But it is the right decision, it had to be made.”
Acting Superintendent Kidney said that so far Territorians are complying with COVID19 precautions but the public still need to be reminded that this Territory Day is different to previous years and that fireworks are not permitted at all.
Tonight is typically the busiest of the year for the Territory’s emergency services personnel, including putting out spot fires caused by errant fireworks.
Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service, duty officer David Letheby said he’s not anticipating a busy night for fires despite the dry conditions.
“We’ve not seen any decent rainfall for months and as such, there is little fuel load for us to be concerned about,” Mr Letheby said.
But many have said they miss the traditional Territory Day, where thousands would gather in towns and communities to light off fireworks or watch shows or concerts. It was the only day that the public could legally purchase fireworks anywhere in Australia for personal use.
An NT Independent non-scientific Facebook poll showed of 388 votes cast by readers as of Territory Day afternoon, 248 said they wanted Cracker Night to return next year, with 140 wanting the noisy celebration gone for good.
“I’m not even socialising this year,” said one Facebook commenter. “We generally go have a barbie with friends and let the kids have fun let our fireworks off. This year between all us it’s probably about $1500-$2000 not injected into the economy.”
“Fireworks, for me, are what makes Territory Day what it is,” another said. “Sets us apart from the rest of the nation. Demonstrates we live life large up here.”
This year will be different with the government suggesting scaled-down non-firework related celebrations such as going to dinner at a pub or hanging around the house with friends.
A new event will see the ABC play the top 40 songs that shaped the Territory, as selected by the public, from 4pm today.
Venues such as the Darwin Ski Club, Deck Bar, Dom’s Bar and Lounge, The Precinct, Hotel Darwin, Good Times Bar and Grill, Kirby’s Katherine and the Epilogue Lounge in Alice Springs will be cranking up the tunes through the radio.