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Fireworks over councillor's Australia Day move

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Adelaide City Councillor Anne Moran has stood by a comment she sent in an email to elected members suggesting that the city’s Australia Day fireworks be cancelled as they upset “new immigrants because they remind them of the bombing and wars they have been traumatised by”.

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The comment was sent in a lengthy email exchange seen by InDaily, in which councillors discussed Moran’s call to cancel this weekend’s Australia Day celebration.

During the exchange, Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde and fellow councillor Arman Abrahimzadeh argued that the council was not responsible for fireworks on Australia Day – rather it was an Australia Day Council decision – and that the event would raise money for the Red Cross’ bushfire appeal.

Moran responded by labelling Hyde and Abrahimzadeh’s opposition to her call as “pathetic”.

“Also fireworks are extremely upsetting to some of the new immigrants because they remind them of the bombing and wars they have been traumatised by,” she wrote on Monday.

“You could have sent a powerful message with this event but as usual nothing.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde described the comment as “absurd” and “extremely distasteful”.

He alleged that the comment was directed at Abrahimzadeh – who came to Australia from Iran – and councillor Houssam Abiad – who grew up in Lebanon during the civil war.

Both Abrahimzadeh and Abiad also sit on the Australia Day Council of South Australia’s board.

Moran denied that the comment was directed at Abrahimzadeh and Abiad.

Abrahimzadeh declined to comment and Abiad did not respond to InDaily’s request for comment.

“I would be very surprised if any new migrants contact Anne Moran at all, let alone on this issue,” Hyde told InDaily this morning.

“God help us if we’re subjected to such commentary for the rest of the council term.”

But Moran said her comment was “extremely responsible” and “based on empathy”.

“Over the years I’ve heard and people have spoken to me about the increasing volume (of the fireworks) and that it could cause some people that are suffering from post-traumatic stress from coming from the terrible civil wars in their country, particularly in Africa recently… to bring on memories from fears of the past,” she said.

“Sometimes loud explosions in the sky will remind people of bombs and bad times, so I’m not quite sure how that’s distasteful.

“It’s distasteful for them to have to revisit it.”

Area councillor Anne Moran. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Moran said “a lot of people” – including refugee organisations – had contacted her suggesting that fireworks could be traumatic for people who have fled war.

She said the council should “take into account the experiences of our new immigrants” and consult with refugee organisations to hear how they perceive fireworks displays.

A spokesperson from the Refugee Council said the organisation was not aware of Moran’s claim.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said: “I think councillor Moran’s comments speak for themselves”.

Moran will propose that the council ban all fireworks in the city, including those at sporting events, at next Tuesday’s council meeting.

Earlier this week, she also joined with councillors Phil Martin and Robert Simms to call for a special meeting to call off fireworks at the city’s Australia Day celebrations as a mark of respect to victims and firefighters impacted by the recent bushfires.

The group also wanted the meeting to discuss the council’s handling of its e-scooter investigation.

However, that meeting will not go ahead as the group failed to gather a quorum of councillors.

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