Fireworks ‘a big waste of money’
THE MARKETING body for tourism hub Surfers Paradise is defending impromptu fireworks after Mayor Tom Tate dubbed it "odd" and a veteran trader joined the suburb MP to call it "a big waste of money".
The spectacular four-minute and 20-second display on Monday night was organised by Surfers Paradise Alliance CEO Mike Winlaw to honour city health care workers and highlight hard-hit Glitter Strip traders.
It came straight after a strip on the Q1 tower was turned bright green as part of the tribute.
The show, costing an estimated $4500, drew immediate cheers and whistles from nearby tower residents but was a fizzer for Cr Tate, Surfers Paradise MP John-Paul Langbroek and long-time Surfers restaurateur Michael Fusco.
Cr Tate, with no prior knowledge and was as surprised as the rest of the city, yesterday said the unannounced display seemed "odd" and called for a probe to ensure no ratepayer funds went up in smoke.
He said he was concerned if SPA used ratepayer funds ahead of the city's marketing groups joining forces under the new Major Events Gold Coast mega-body from July 1.
"Respect of ratepayers funds should be always front and foremost of anyone's mind when you're running a council-owned organisation."
MP John-Paul Langbroek said it was a "big waste of money - it was not worth it.
"I don't want to put Mike Winlaw's head on a plate but they got this one wrong. It is not time to party or celebrate.
"We can certainly acknowledge our healthcare workers, the Q1 light show was good, but trying to celebrate with fireworks when there are no tourists is literally just putting up traders money in flames."
Businesses in the tourist hub pay extra rates, which forms the Surfers Paradise Special Levy, to pay for promotional activities.
Mr Langbroek said the levy existed so ratepayers were not out of pocket.
Mr Winlaw said Surfers commercial landlords and traders contributed about $2 each from the levy, adding: "This was initiated and established with support of prominent Surfers Paradise traders."
But Michael Fusco, Costa D'Oro Italian restaurant owner for 30-plus years, said: "It is disappointing to learn the cost of the display was withdrawn from the levy.
"It was a waste of money. If we are putting money in, we would like to know where it's being spent.
"The fireworks were nice so it would have been great to have some notice when they were on so more people could have appreciated them."
Mr Winlaw said given the show was a tightly guarded secret to ensure no mass gatherings "I believe the Mayor has the right to ask the questions and I have responded to questions from the CEO (of the) city".
In a statement, Mr Winlaw said: "The purpose of the show was to continue to market the precinct where many traders are open, recognise health workers and boost morale for our traders, tourism operators as restrictions start to ease".
He cited shows of support for health workers across the world: "We believe it was the right thing to do and be one of the first in Australia to recognise them so publicly.
"We are buoyed by the many Health Care workers who responded positively to our gesture. "We would hope the community can look at the positives and see what this gesture meant for so many health care workers, local businesses and members of the public."
He continued: "We sought to reinforce and recognise all health care workers for the significant role they … continue to play moving forward to getting businesses back to normal.
"The intent is to continue to leverage the positive media and social media response to market our "Support Local" campaign," he said.
In response to criticism by Bulletin All that Glitters columnist Andrew Meadowcroft who suggested the money could have been better spend on hampers or carparking for health workers, Mr Winlaw said: "With respect to suggestions to buy hampers or pay for free parking, this is obviously outside our control and budget.
"Giving a hamper worth $50 to each Department of Health employee would run in the millions of dollars.
"We live by the adage that it is not the cost of the gift but the thought that counts."
Originally published as Fireworks 'a big waste of money'