Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Canberra’s Leading
Relationship Lawyers

Bring back Bonfire Night for Canberra’s children

By Robbie Swan 22 September 2016 35

Boy looking at a bonfire, Barcelona. Photo: iStock

My family settled in Yarralumla in 1953. Back in those days, it was a working class suburb with dirt roads and a dairy at the eastern end on the old Molonglo River.

People used to exercise their greyhounds around the shops and on the school oval. My ‘gang’ at that time included my brother Col and a bunch of kids whose names I couldn’t pronounce. We had little tin and tar canoes tied up under the willows on the edge of the old Molonglo River, about 100m to the west of where the Yacht Club is now. We also had a cubby house on the ridge above Fitzgerald street that looked down over the shantytown that was known as Westlake.

Living amongst the elements where suburbia intersected with traditional farming and natural bushland was a great place to grow up.

One of the highlights of the year used to be the Queen’s birthday weekend in June. Fireworks would go on sale about a fortnight before, to make sure that everyone could celebrate with plenty of crackers. No amount of explosive homage to her Majesty was ever enough. We celebrated with fireworks that kids today could only dream of. The king of crackers being the ‘threepenny bunger’ which was like a small stick of dynamite and could bring down a concrete letterbox.

But of course the fireworks were merely an adjunct to the real deal – the suburban bonfire. Parents and friends would work out the most common location and start planning months in advance. They would raid their sheds for old tyres, logs, packing crates and whatever else would burn and from a central pole usually dug into the ground, would construct huge edifices to the fiery element. When these giant pyres were lit on ‘cracker night’, kids from all up and down the street would come swaddled in pyjamas and dressing-gowns to witness the power of a 20ft wall of flame. With cinders whirling around in the air and the crack and fizz of matter being consumed at very high temperatures, this was a night to remember. As a result, I have a healthy respect for fire that was born of being up close and personal with it from an early age.

But how many kids get to see something like this anymore? How many get to prod a fire and feel it burn their eyebrows when they get too close? Since the ACT government, the Opposition and the Greens all got together to push their politically correct agenda of banning cracker night and the obligatory bonfire that went with it, how do kids get to feel the remarkable and elemental aspects of fire now?

Could the new wave of young arsonists who set fire to forests and farms, actually be fuelled by the ban on bonfires?

Yes, I understand that dogs bark and some go stir crazy over cracker night. My old collie dog was one of them. We all loved her but we’d just lock her up in the house on cracker night and tell her to grin and bear it because this was a night for humans.

And if you wanted to ban an activity that really sets off dogs it would be hot air ballooning. Dogs go ballistic over the dawn drifters but nobody ever suggests banning the balloons. As much as we love our dogs, how much of our behaviour do we have to modify to please them?

The Sex Party wants to bring back bonfire night. We believe that the decision to ban it was driven by short-sighted political correctness and a mistaken belief that kids who are shielded from natural elements have safer lives. We think nothing could be further from the truth and that the thousands of caring parents who insist on driving their kids to school because they might get wet or sunburnt or whatever, may not be acting in their children’s best interests.

Raise a tax on fireworks for the RSPCA in recognition of the fact that a lot of dogs get scared when fireworks go off.  But don’t ban fireworks because dogs don’t like them.

By all means allow the government to set the parameters of where public bonfires can be set. By all means limit the sale of fireworks to adults in the same way as alcohol and gambling. But kids need to develop strong relationships with earth, wind, water and fire by getting up close and personal with these natural elements. Failure to do that will see kids get more and more involved in the unreal world of computer screens and increasing mental illness in society.

Robbie Swan is a co-founder of the Australian Sex Party and a candidate for the Woden/Weston seat of Murrumbidgee in next month’s ACT election.

Pictured is a boy looking at a bonfire in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: iStock

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
35 Responses to
Bring back Bonfire Night for Canberra’s children
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
Masquara 5:14 pm 26 Sep 16

Tell me about it! And Shane Rattenbury really jumped the shark on the secondary path from Campbell all the way up Mt Ainslie – Rattenbury’s large metal signs are every 50 metres in places, warning walkers to stay on the path in case of ordinance (I would think that, by now, the large male kangaroo who had the sense to scratch Shane’s leg would have “uncovered” any ordinance that a human would set off) . Visual pollution. Can’t we enjoy the bush au naturel and have our bonfires?

ozmaniac 8:12 pm 25 Sep 16

The Nanny State prevails, and the Fun Police are out in force.

I was annoyed when our new cedar wood letterbox was blown to smithereens, however quickly recalled, as a kid – “hell, I used to do that”!

dungfungus 6:05 pm 25 Sep 16

Rollersk8r said :

Every neighbourhood burning tyres and rubbish – exactly what we need.

I enjoyed bonfires and fireworks as a kid but more than happy for my own kids to go without. I don’t have any safety or animal welfare concerns. Simply – a small minority DID ruin it for everyone and I’m glad they no longer have access to fireworks to wake people up at all hours.

Well, a new recycling factory in Hume will be burning plastic with the approval of our “clean/green” government 24/7 soon.

To bad if you live nearby which you obviously don’t.

Rollersk8r 3:24 pm 25 Sep 16

Every neighbourhood burning tyres and rubbish – exactly what we need.

I enjoyed bonfires and fireworks as a kid but more than happy for my own kids to go without. I don’t have any safety or animal welfare concerns. Simply – a small minority DID ruin it for everyone and I’m glad they no longer have access to fireworks to wake people up at all hours.

dungfungus 10:36 pm 23 Sep 16

creative_canberran said :

dungfungus said :

The controlled demolition on Acton Peninsula was deemed to be risk-free and look what happened.

Nope, wasn’t deemed risk free. The risk was underestimated certainly, and the risk massively increased by a dodgy contractor working with methodology and construction he had neither skills nor experience to deal with.

Fireworks displays at public events are done by a handful of experienced companies.

wildturkeycanoe said :

How many homes burnt down due to fireworks back when they were legal?

I can think of two specifically.

The Titanic was unsinkable too.

creative_canberran 9:08 pm 23 Sep 16

dungfungus said :

The controlled demolition on Acton Peninsula was deemed to be risk-free and look what happened.

Nope, wasn’t deemed risk free. The risk was underestimated certainly, and the risk massively increased by a dodgy contractor working with methodology and construction he had neither skills nor experience to deal with.

Fireworks displays at public events are done by a handful of experienced companies.

wildturkeycanoe said :

How many homes burnt down due to fireworks back when they were legal?

I can think of two specifically.

Reech 6:56 pm 23 Sep 16

‘Cracker night’ in the 1950s was not held on the QB weekend in June, but on 24 May – Empire Day (which later became Commonwealth Day).

Steven Bailey 5:22 pm 23 Sep 16

Yes, I was thinking of reversing the policy and banning thunder storms.

Kim F 5:15 pm 23 Sep 16

Yeah, my elderly parents just loved having their mail box blown up! I hope you are in my electorate so I can vote for you last.

wooster 3:24 pm 23 Sep 16

I’m seriously wondering if anyone votes for the Sex Party because they believe in the platform or because the name catches people…

If you want a laugh, look at the way their candidate explained away the shift from the Katter Australia Party to Sex Party.

I think everyone should be very wary of people who CLEARLY only want to be elected.

Holden Caulfield 3:23 pm 23 Sep 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

Like I said, there are so many other killers in society but we aren’t banning them. What about rock fishing, water skiing,sky jumping, rally driving, even mountain biking? Let’s ban them all and wrap everyone in cotton wool. Eventually we won’t have to take responsibility for doing something wrong, because the government didn’t do enough to stop me from doing it.

When the rock fishers, water skiiers, sky divers, rally drivers and mountain bikers start waking people up in the wee hours of the morning, starting fires and blowing up letter boxes etc on public and private property your comparison might begin to make sense.

I think most people would be happy for cracker night to take place on one night of the year, during mandated hours, with responsible guidelines and an acceptable level of consideration for the broader community. This is what was supposed to happen, but it didn’t. And probably never did.

Why do those in favour of cracker night keep failing to acknowledge that a minority of selfish and irresponsible clowns had just as much influence on the demise of the event as John Hargreaves and his cats?

chewy14 3:18 pm 23 Sep 16

Holden Caulfield said :

Oh for the days when we could throw old tyres, empty spray cans and god knows what else into a big pile and burn, burn, burn the night away.

Then, at random and regular times throughout the year (not just cracker night), we could go around waking up the neighbourhood with our firecrackers, just having a laugh, starting fires at schools in the bin hoppers, blowing up people’s letter boxes, being total arsehats with no consideration for anyone else except our own selfish egos.

I agree. Brilliant article, easily the best ever published on RiotACT.

Vote 1 Selfishness!

Yep,

I much preferred the time when I got to decide what other people do and value because I happen to own a dog.

I mean, expecting the police to actually do their job when people break the law is too much to handle, we clearly need to ban every activity where a miniscule amount of people break already existing laws.

Oh and don’t worry about my dog barking every hour of the day whilst I’m not home, that’s your problem and shouldn’t be an issue

MERC600 2:14 pm 23 Sep 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

TimboinOz said :

but home events, no way and no thanks!

How many homes burnt down due to fireworks back when they were legal? How many dogs go crazy when there are thunderstorms? The reasons not to legalize fireworks really aren’t that good.
With the help of the internet and a few household ingredients, kids can cook up things far more powerful than a couple of crackers so banning the sale of a few sparkly things is not going to stop the bad eggs causing property damage. They will find other ways.
Guns kill, cars kill, (yes I know they don’t because ultimately people are the killers) but we haven’t banned their use, simply legislated the sale and use of them. Why not do the same for crackers?
Nimbys want to ruin everyone else’ enjoyment. What is wrong with a good bonfire to warm the soul on a cold winter night?

“”What is wrong with a good bonfire to warm the soul on a cold winter night?””

Try Chambers Rutherglen Muscadelle . A fortified drop which is very good for the soul on a winter night, and any other night realy.

No_Nose 1:40 pm 23 Sep 16

dungfungus said :

I think it was banned because of cats, not dogs.

Not because of ‘cats’. It was because of ‘cat’. One particular cat.

chewy14 12:50 pm 23 Sep 16

TimboinOz said :

This idea while not quite as idiotic as getting rid of the microwave, TV and FM transmission, hub that is Black Mountain tower. But it is close.

Running fireworks displays at major venues, away form suburbs might work but home events, no way and no thanks!

Yep, agreed.

Allowing people the freedom to make their own decisions and live their own lives is like so 1990. If I don’t like something the government should ban it, we can’t have people valuing things that I don’t.

What kind of society would we end up with if people had individual freedoms? That kind of thought is dangerous.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site