Skyworks decision in June

THE fate of the 2021 Skyworks remains up in the air, with City of Perth commissioners to make a decision at the end of June.

They were scheduled to decide whether to go ahead with the Skyworks at the May 26 meeting as this is usually the time of year when they lock in the contract to buy the 40,000-odd fireworks needed. 

But tucked away on page 269 of a 288 page Covid-19 recovery strategy presented to commissioners for approval, city staff recommended that $1.9 million from the Skyworks budget be reallocated for homeless support.

It was based on a survey sent out to 250 “key stakeholders” from the tourism, hotels, property, arts, culture, retail, hospitality and community sector. 

Of those, 74 replied, and only 34 plumped for Skyworks. Meanwhile 70/74 wanted more done on homelessness. 

There was no other reason given until the city issued a media statement saying the recommendation was based on “uncertainties related to mass gatherings and the possibility for second-wave infections to occur into late 2020”.

The statement said it usually took 10 months to plan the Skyworks and it would be a big financial risk to plough ahead ahead only to have it cancelled. 

Premier Mark McGowan said on Monday it was “premature” to decide the fate of the Skyworks and Perth MP John Carey said it was “a slightly overcautious approach; we don’t know what’s going to occur”.

Chair commissioner Andrew Hammond told the May 19 council briefing that commissioners would need more time and a lot more information before making a decision about the Skyworks and two other mass gathering events, the Christmas nativity and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Before the June 30 meeting he requested information on lead-up times, the cost of cancelling, the economic benefits, advice from the chief medical officers and whether smaller events would be safer.

“The contents of the report and strategy is extremely good work in the circumstances and with the pressures placed on staff,” Cmmr Hammond said.

“However the three items that are contained in the report, being the Australia Day Skyshow, the Christmas nativity and the New Year’s Eve events, are events that have taken place for many years and therefore require, in my view, a greater depth of analysis and consideration than would be afforded other matters in the strategy.”

Mr Carey also noted traders who’d suffered during the shutdown didn’t usually see a huge return from the Skyworks.

“When you do speak to small businesses in the city, they don’t get the economic stimulus or benefit.

“It’s great for WA, but for the businesses in the heart of the city, they don’t see people coming through. People go to the river, they bring their own food, they sit down and as soon as it’s over they nick off.”

By DAVID BELL

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