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As NSW burns, 150,000 people have called for Sydney's NYE fireworks to be cancelled.

New Year’s Eve is looming. But judging by a petition currently circulating online, hundreds of thousands of Australians aren’t in the mood for the usual celebrations.

With large swathes of the eastern states crippled by drought and blackened by an unprecedented bushfire crisis, 150,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for Sydney’s famous December 31 fireworks display to be cancelled and the funds redirected to struggling farmers and firefighters.

Watch: Emily Smith and her family lost everything in the NSW fires. Post continues below.

Video by Channel 9

The appeal, which is addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, reads, “2019 has been a catastrophic year in Australia for floods and fires. Give the money we spend on FIREWORKS New Years Eve to farmers and firefighters and animal carers. Save AUSTRALIA’s wildlife. [sic]

“$5.8 MILLION was spent in Sydney alone for fireworks last year. All states should say NO to FIREWORKS.

“[The fireworks] may traumatise some people as there is enough smoke in the air.”

On Tuesday, roughly 2,700 firefighters were battling 85 blazes around New South Wales, including a single 60-kilometre front burning north-west of Sydney. Dubbed a “mega fire”, it was formed when five smaller fires joined together on Friday, forming a 250,000-hectare inferno larger than the city itself.

So far this fire season, six people have been killed, 680 homes destroyed and more than 2.7 million hectares of land burned in New South Wales alone.

“Money going up in smoke”.

A number of supporters of the Change.org petition posted comments urging the government and Sydney council to adjust its priorities in the wake of the crisis.

“The farmers are still struggling [and there is] a long road ahead for them, they need the money more than we need the show,” one signatory wrote. “Firefighters are doing the best they can, the land is dry, the water restrictions have started. Surely the money is more wisely spent on the issues our country is facing every day.”

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“Firstly, the farmers are in dire straits and need all the assistance we can give,” another wrote. “Secondly, fireworks are a COMPLETE waste of money for a few minutes of ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’, when not only farmers, but also the homeless, could and should benefit from the money spent going up in smoke.”

“Time to think of others instead of ourselves. I’m sure we can still have a fun New Year’s Eve without fireworks,” another added. “Just put some lights on the bridge for the world to see how we care for our fellow Australians.”

But their pleas won’t be answered.

Sydney Lord Mayor: “We can’t cancel the fireworks”.

As the signature count continued to tick over on Tuesday afternoon, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore posted a comment on the petition, in which she wrote: “We can’t cancel the fireworks”.

While Lord Mayor Moore stated that she was moved by the public support for those affected by the drought and bushfire crisis and sympathised with the cause, she noted that there would be “little practical benefit” to axing the event.

“Our fireworks are planned 15 months in advance and most of the budget – which is largely allocated to crowd safety and cleaning measures – has already been spent,” she wrote. “And with just weeks to go, many have already booked hotels and restaurants and planned their trip to watch the fireworks. This event generates $130 million for the state economy, which helps many people.”

Lord Mayor Moore wrote that she had recently directed the council to donate over $600,000 to bushfire and drought relief and that the one million people expected to gather around the harbour for the New Year’s Eve fireworks would be encouraged to give to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

“In all marketing materials, during the broadcast and on the night, we will be reminding those who visit our harbour and who watch at home to give generously,” she wrote.

She also used the platform to chide successive Federal Governments that, she argued, “have shamefully presided over failed climate policies” leading to more extreme weather events such as the fires. She also assured signatories that the city’s fireworks “will be carbon offset, and are biodegradable in order to reduce waste and environmental impact”.

The Federal Government has not responded to the petition.

Feature image: Getty.

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