As I stood in line outside a fireworks store in Darwin on the morning of July 1, a man told me that he had found a type of steel pipe, which he was planning to use for fireworks that night. It was early in the morning, and the store had not yet opened, but he wanted to get there early to beat the crowds on the one day of the year when people shop and light fires.
He added, offhandedly, that the pipe was forbidden. (There were strict rules about what kind of fireworks and fireworks could be sold; it wasn’t something you could just walk into a store and buy.)
The next day, I read in the article about how “a lot of blokes” used an empty metal pipe to set off fireworks. The pipe burst into flames, and flying shrapnel severed one man’s arm at the elbow and struck another man in the chest.
I believe the person I was talking to had nothing to do with it – he would have lived in a very different part of Darwin. However, it emphasized the dangers of giving people access to content that is, in particular, explosive.
I was in Darwin writing about how the Northern Territory is the only place left in Australia where people are allowed to light fireworks without needing a license or permit. Territory Day, also known as Cracker Night, is a celebration of independence in a state that has always boasted that it is the most territorial of the rest of the country, and where people see themselves as Australia’s defenders. seriously the spirit
When reporting storyI was impressed by how people talked about freedom and personal responsibility, and how they saw the Northern Territory as Australia’s last frontier for both.
Australia is sometimes criticized for having children. It takes a proactive approach to things like public health, and as we’ve seen during a pandemic, residents are often happy to follow the rules and give up some freedoms to help the community.
But others question whether the country has proper laws and human rights. A politician who tried to re-import fireworks – unsuccessfully – has said they argued that banning them was part of the state of “government meddling in our personal decisions that has reduced our quality of life.”
For some in the Northern Territory, Cracker Night was proof that they lived in a community-controlled area, where residents were trusted to make their own decisions about their safety and livelihoods.
The night was close “knowing we are Australia’s last frontier, before we get to nanny land,” said Gary Burns, 32.
Chris Lay, who runs Oriental Emporium, an Asian grocery store that turns into a fire shop one day a year, said: “The ball is in my court — I have to be safe. If I’m not well, I’m going to the hospital.
Accidents happen every year. But proponents of the practice say many of these are caused by people who shouldn’t be doing it – as is the case with steel pipe. Laws cannot stop people from doing wrong on purpose, they argue.
But the critics have he realized that laws are about protecting the whole community, and protecting people from themselves. Spectators are also injured by fireworks, and there are concerns about the impact on livestock and the environment.
Underneath all the celebrations, there was a deep fear that the Northern Territory was on borrowed time. Although the people of the country strongly supported the tradition, and any politician who wanted to end the tradition would face serious problems, some are worried that the tradition could be one disaster to be removed.
“I think the opposition is gradually increasing,” said Rolf Gerritsen, a professor at Charles Darwin University, adding that despite its spirit of independence, the Northern Territory was growing slowly and becoming more like the rest of the country. “It wouldn’t be surprising if within ten years, Cracker Night was abolished like in other countries.”
Now for this week’s news: