Australia welcomes in New Year with huge fireworks display as wildfires ravage the country

Sydney's skyline has been lit up with a huge fireworks display to celebrate the start of 2020 as bushfires blaze across Australia. 

Many areas across the country have been ravaged by intense fires, mostly across its east coast, for several weeks. The blazes, caused by high temperatures and months of drought, have destroyed more than  4 million hectares (10 million acres).

More than 280,000 people signed a petition calling for the fireworks display to be cancelled this year and the money donated to firefighters and farmers whose land has been destroyed. The petition claims that some A$5.8m was spent on the display in Sydney last year. 

A number of other firework displays across the country were cancelled but Sydney's Lord Mayor defended the city's plan to press ahead with the display. Clover Moore said the celebration would 'give hope to people' and that the display had been planned 15 months in advance and the money already spent. 

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said the fireworks should go ahead because it is 'important to send a message to the world.'

It's thought that more than a million people watched the spectacle from the banks around Sydney harbour.  

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