Shows this year's Sydney NYE artwork

NYE2022 Crowd Crush & 2023 New South Wales Election Fee Debate

November 16 2022 Primary Vote Polling

  • Labor – 40%
  • Coalition – 37% (Liberals – 33%, The Nationals – 4%)
  • The Greens – 9%
  • Pauline Hanson’s One Nation – 6%
  • Others – 8%

On 28 December 2022, the Australian Labor Party announced that if they form the New South Wales Government after the March 25 2023, New South Wales election, they will make all vantage points that currently charge for Sydney New Year’s Eve free of charge.

The Australian Labor Party has incorrectly stated that the “pay-to-view” model was introduced by the New South Wales Government after the Coalition’s election in March 2011 in just only a few locations. In fact, “pay-to-view” vantage points operated by the New South Wales Government existed before this time – as early as Sydney NYE2001 – Of Beauty Rich & Rare: Australia – The Land when the Sydney Harbour islands and the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Bennelong Lawn became the 1st official paid ticketed vantage points. This was under the Labor Carr Government when they realised the Millennium edition’s success was not a global one-hit wonder but it should be acknowledged the number of paid ticketed vantage points has increased significantly in the past decade during the Coalition’s time in office.

They also incorrectly state “45,000” people pay for tickets at NSW Government-controlled vantage points. It is actually 60,110 people.

Before continue reading, please note that even though the Sydney Opera House is a free vantage point for 6000 people, most of the venue is actually paid ticketed with the whole foreshore, except maybe the north-western corner, not free. Not all of these paid ticketed events are not advertised on the official Sydney NYE website. Some of these paid ticketed events appear on the ‘Events’ webpage and not the ‘Vantage Points’ webpage of the official Sydney NYE website while some other non-Opera House paid ticketed events do appear on the ‘Vantage Points’ webpage but not the ‘Events’ webpage of the official Sydney NYE website. If you at the Sydney Opera House for free, you are not the closest to the foreshore unless you are at the top of the steps or above Opera Bar/House Canteen, where additional height removes viewing obstacles.

We have the most beautiful harbour and the most beautiful city & every person should be able to enjoy it without a cost. That’s what Labor will do if we are elected.

We want family and friends to head out and enjoy the fireworks around our Harbour – for free. A night out with family or friends in Sydney ushering in the new year, that’s priceless.

No matter where you watch the fireworks around our harbour, it will be free.

Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales, Chris Minns

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales, Prue Car, held a media call on the policy announcement at the Royal Botanic Gardens on 28 December 2022. She said the Coalition government was “out of touch” with families contending with rising living costs. She estimated Labor’s policy would cost over $5 million, which would be accounted for in the budget, though she was hesitant to be definitive on what Labor would and would not allow:

Families deserve to celebrate the New Year without worrying about additional costs to the family budget.

When the Liberals and Nationals came to office in 2011, they started charging and it slowly crept up and up. There’s not a blade of grass they won’t charge for. They used to all be free but this government are the ones slowly taxing and charging up to half of the public places to watch fireworks. The fact is that Dominic Perrottet’s government is addicted to tolling and fining and charging and taxing the people of New South Wales. There is not a blade of grass that he will not charge you to sit on.

These are not private facilities. It’s the right of everybody in New South Wales. It can be done free of charge

Deputy Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales, Prue Car

Shadow Minister for the Arts & the Night Time Economy, John Graham, said the policy — which has already been costed “in some detail” by the Parliamentary Budget Office — would make Sydney New Year’s Eve more accessible:

The principal here is we’re returning it to really how it was for decades that people were able to come down, sit by the harbour, see the fireworks as part of a family experience and that’s really what we’d like to see be brought back that culture.

Shadow Minister for Arts & the Night Time Economy, John Graham

Mr Graham said ticketing would remain in some areas for the purposes of crowd control, which has been implemented by some local councils:

There may be a need for safety reasons to ticket some of these places, but it should be free. The State Government’s taken the opposite approach & has decided to charge significant amounts of money for people to see what we think is a fundamental Sydney experience.

Shadow Minister for Arts & the Night Time Economy, John Graham

The NSW Government says revenue generated from the Royal Botanic Gardens vantage points will be used to support science, horticulture and conservation projects.

The Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet, was asked about the Labor policy on the day of it’s announcement at a media call held at Coogee Beach on beach safety by the Liberal candidate for the seat of Coogee, Dr Kylie von Meunster:

Premier, umh, Labor has announced that they will make New Year’s Eve free to watch from vantage points around Sydney. What do you make of that and is it something you’d consider?

Male Journalist

I mean…(chuckles)…I mean that’s their, that’s their big election policy. I mean its bread and circuses. Ah, here we are in a state which we’re taking from good to great here in New South Wales, um, & in a situation where over New Years a great time of, a great time of year, more than half the ticketed, um, arrangements around the Harbour are free for people plus, all the other, um, vantage points around the Harbour but if that’s their big election announcement, it just shows they haven’t got the policy depth to take this state forward. It’s simply embarrassing & its bread and circuses.

New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet

So you will continue to charge for the fireworks?

Female journalist

Well, we have, we have, we have ticketed events that are free, uh, in the main. Un, we have so many free places right across the Harbour. This is, uh, an embarrassing announcement. Um, it just shows the lack of policy depth. You look at what we’re doing here in New South Wales – reforming the housing market to get young people into the property market, over $7 billion in cost of living measures to help our, our families get through this difficult time, reforming the education system so we have, uh, a year pre-kindergarten for every single child across New South Wales, childcare reform – these are the policies that will take our state from good to great but what you get with Labor is simply trinkets.

New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet

It should be noted that while the Premier is incorrect in saying that more than half the ticketed vantage points are free (It is actually 28%), more than half (57%) of all vantage points are free with 70% of foreshore attendees not paying.

It should be pointed out that he does not point out that Mrs Macquaries’ Point, the most iconic vantage point which is also supposed to be in ‘the public domain’, and nearly the whole western foreshore of Circular Quay is now fully paid as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hickson Road Reserve, though, has been invitation-only since Sydney NYE1996 – Mask A Sydney Face and paid ticketed since Sydney NYE2018 – The Pulse Of Sydney. The part of Hickson Road under the Sydney Harbour Bridge has always been free, though it is too close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to get a good view of the Bridge fireworks unless you want to see those fireworks (particularly the waterfalls) up close.

It should also be noted that when a vantage point becomes divided into separate areas or becomes paid ticketed, the capacity of the vantage point is significantly reduced as the more people are asked to pay, the more the consumer expects so extra features that would not normally appear at a free vantage point appear such as exclusive seating space, exclusive dancefloor, exclusive bar & food preparation areas, exclusive toilets etc. All these extra things take up space and thus, reduce capacity. Free vantage points would have these amenities (except dancefloors) but not as exclusively and it would be a fair distance away so there would a long walk and queue to there and back thus, less room taken up and room is created for more spectators.

The Daily Telegraph wrote in their article that broke the story that the policy only applied to vantage points charging up to AUD$70 (though it later turned out to apply to all paid vantage points). 2GB radio made a similar statement though they did not state that was Labor’s policy rather just stating the ‘fact’ that that is how much a ticket can cost. In fact, tickets can cost up to $595.

In their 28 December 2022 editorial, The Daily Telegraph wrote that they believe Chris Minns is using a political tactic of former President of the United States Of America, Donald Trump:

Rather than focus on big-picture issues in the manner of his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump used each and every campaign stop to discuss intensely local themes.

Basically, Trump endeavoured to make every stop during his campaign a winner. And, against all expectations, it worked.

NSW Labor Leader, Chris Minns, no doubt won’t appreciate the comparison on a personal level, but tactically, he is plaining borrowing from the Trump playbook.

‘The Daily Telegraph’ Editorial

The Daily Telegraph also were not sure how crowd control management would be done if Labor’s proposal went ahead:

Exactly how this system will work in practice is unclear. Measures would presumably be put in place to keep newly free areas such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Barangaroo Reserve and Hickson Road Reserve from becoming dangerous overcrowded.

‘The Daily Telegraph’ Editorial

This is despite vantage points having had capacity limits in place for nearly over 2 decades, whether they were free or not. This is also despite crowd control management being done successfully during the cultural peak period of the Millennium, when the Australian Labor Party had been in power in NSW for nearly 5 years and all vantage points were free. And lastly, this is also despite crowd control management being done successfully during the peak attendance period of the early 2010’s when attendance went over 2 million people, power in NSW was being transferred from the Australian Labor Party (who had been in power since 1995) to the Coalition (elected 2011) and vantage points, one, a couple or a few at a time, subtly begun a slow transition to paid-ticketed vantage points.

Shortly before Midnight, in The Rocks at the western end of Jack Munday Place, a crowd crush occurred. It occurred at an entrance of The Rocks vantage point, where people tried to enter the free but obstructed fireworks viewing spot, The Rocks, which has a capacity of 18,000 (Notably, this is a decrease of 22,000 on NYE2019!). It resulted in the arrival of the New South Wales Public Order & Riot Squad.

New South Wales Police & Ambulance reported no serious injuries from the incident:

While there were a few exceptions, most people were well-behaved and enjoyed their celebrations safely and responsibly.

Several vantage points around the city were at capacity by late-afternoon, as over 200,000 revellers travelled into the city and foreshore areas ahead of the 9pm and midnight fireworks displays.

Just before midnight, large crowds surged towards a vantage point for a better view of the fireworks, resulting in police resources being deployed to the area for crowd management.

There were no injuries as a result and no arrests were made.

New South Wales Police Statement

Once again, Sydney welcomed the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display, and the vast majority of revellers enjoyed their night safely.

More than one million people gathered around Sydney harbour for the fireworks last night – the highest crowd numbers in several years due to the pandemic – so it was a very busy night for us, yet somewhat relieving to see an overall drop in call-outs.

New Year’s Eve 2022 Operation Commander, Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke

City Of Sydney, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said crowd control management had declared the city “full” at 7pm, about 4 hours earlier than in pre-COVID pandemic editions. The Sydney Opera House also reached capacity by late -morning and other parts of the city in the mid to late afternoon, which is normal. Overall, this resulted in thousands waiting outside vantage point gates or heading home. She said while some City of Sydney vantage points were ticketed, they were all free:

There were huge crowds in the city. It was really back to pre-Covid popularity.

We have measures in place for crowd control. There was a minor event at The Rocks and immediately that was sorted and there were no injuries.

We haven’t got the final (attendance) figures yet, but we probably had more people around the harbour than we have ever had before.

I would like to see all of the sites around the Harbour free.

I don’t believe other councils or government agencies should be making money out of the event.

City Of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore

To break the Sydney NYE attendance record, it would have to be over 2 million, which was the attendance record set for NYE2013 – Shine.

We work with multiple government agencies on crowd management plans well ahead of time, so incidents are dealt with quickly and people can enjoy their night.

As always, we’ll incorporate any learnings from this event as we plan next year’s celebration with our NSW government partners.

City Of Sydney spokesperson

It was really scary, very dangerous and I thought I was going to be badly injured. People were trampling me, as I was on the ground with about a dozen other people and some were running over the top of me. I lost my footing when I was pushed to the ground and landed on top of two others.

Anonymous

The anonymous person also told The Daily Mail Australia that the situation was particularly frightening given what happened 2 months earlier during Halloween celebrations in Seoul, South Korea, where 196 people where killed in a crowd crush.

Vivid Sydney, organised by the NSW Government, suffered a bigger but less dangerous crowd crush during Vivid Sydney 2016 which was barely reported in the media. The cause of that was simply poor planning and a bit of bad luck with the weather.

The Daily Mail Australia understands the City Of Sydney will now rethink holding ticketed and non-ticketed events in adjacent areas on New Year’s Eve. This is despite the crowd crush occurring in a location that was not ticketed on either side of the gate shown in the video.

There were some specific incidents, and we call on the Government to make sure those incidents are reviewed, and any specific safety lessons are learnt.

Deputy Opposition Leader in the New South Wales Legislative Council, John Graham

Regional Transport & Roads Minister, Sam Farraway said the “vibe was good” in Sydney as over a million people watched the Midnight Fireworks in person:

We had some significant crowd numbers. We had some significant people using public transport across the city and I think by all accounts, and from the Police accounts, everyone behaved themselves

Sydney…brought in new years with an absolute bang

New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport & Roads, Sam Farraway

New South Wales Police on foot and horseback were also called in to turn back crowds of up to 100 people trying to access the Sydney Harbour Bridge at the Grosvenor Street off-ramp, who Nine News said believed “was a legitimate spot to watch the fireworks” just before Midnight.

There were some people who did try to enter the Harbour Bridge last night and that was dealt with very quickly.

Sydney NYE2022 Executive Producer, Stephen Gilby

Other members of the public complained about overcrowding at Circular Quay while exiting ferries. One Twitter post said crowds have made it difficult to exit a ferry.

With Circular Quay being one of the most popular vantage points, some ferry passengers waited briefly to exit their services so they could move safely and freely around the promenade

Transport For NSW Spokesperson