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* Australia Day Fireworks at Docklands *
State government cancels Melbourne's major Australia Day fireworks Melbourne's major Australia Day fireworks display has been scrapped by the state government as firefighters continue grappling with this summer's devastating bushfires. The government has decided to cancel the Docklands fireworks given Parks Victoria staff who are usually involved in the event have been fighting bushfires in East Gippsland and the state's north-east. "Given the huge resources Parks Victoria has invested in fighting fires and protecting our parks and people over recent weeks, the Victorian government has decided to cancel this year's fireworks at Docklands," a spokeswoman said. "While we understand that this decision may disappoint some families, the focus right now of Parks Victoria is, and has to be, on working with our other emergency services in the firefighting effort and the recovery of communities and wildlife." "We understand the need to prioritise state resources in response to the bushfires," Cr Capp said. The fireworks display, which usually attracts about 25,000 people, was due to kick off at 9pm on January 26 along the Harbour Esplanade in Docklands. Other councils have also decided to cancel their Australia Day fireworks displays, including the City of Whitehorse. Other Australia Day events will go ahead as planned. Emergency services and the impact of the bushfire crisis will be recognised at formal events on the day. The impact of the fires has spread far beyond areas directly affected, with many towns that depend on tourism in broader Gippsland and north-east Victorian regions struggling to attract visitors. This includes towns that have been far from the flames. January is the busiest time of year for many towns. Some businesses have said visitors were too scared to travel after the state government declared a state of disaster on January 2, which has since been lifted. A state government spokeswoman said at the time that the declaration sent a clear message that "if you're in the fire zone and you can leave, you must leave". "If you don't, we simply can't guarantee your safety and others may be put into harm's way trying to protect you," she said. "Nothing is more important than keeping Victorians safe." On Friday the state government also announced that farms affected by the bushfires would be eligible for a maximum of $15,000 to cover transport costs. The subsidy will cover up 50 per cent of total freight costs, which could include transporting emergency fodder to burnt-out properties or moving stock for sale or slaughter. The government confirmed that stock losses had totalled 4900 so far in East Gippsland and the upper Murray region. Source: State government cancels Melbourne's major Australia Day fireworks theage.com.au By Benjamin Preiss and Rachel Eddie January 17, 2020
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