Chris Eichbaum. PHOTO/FILE

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

A Masterton man’s petition to end the retail sale of fireworks is going off like a rocket, attracting 17,424 signatures with two days still to run.

Chris Eichbaum set up the online petition through the Parliament website on November 1 after years of growing concern about fireworks.

The petition is open until November 30, and can be found on the NZ Parliament website: www.parliament.nz, search ‘Eichbaum petition’.

It asks the House of Representatives to pass legislation to prohibit the retail sale of fireworks, and institute licensing arrangements for individuals or organisations to responsibly detonate fireworks in public displays approved by the relevant territorial local authority.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the response,” he said on Tuesday.

He said he had “never done this kind of thing before”, and had had no idea how many people would sign.

He has the option to extend how long the petition is open but is not going to.

After the petition closes, he has to get an MP to agree to present it and then it is announced in Parliament, tabled and referred to a select committee.

He hopes the voices of the people who signed the petition will be heard and a party, possibly the Greens, will pursue the issue and present legislation on it.

He said his dog was frightened every year by fireworks going off, and they were still going off last weekend.

The dog in question is an Airedale terrier called Millie, who tries to find a dark, quiet place whenever she hears fireworks.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has long supported calls to end public sale of fireworks, and Eichbaum, an associate professor in the School of Government at Victoria University, said it was time the matter was looked at properly by a select committee.

Eichbaum accepts some people will argue that the “nanny state” should leave fireworks alone, “but the costs of unsafe and inappropriate use of fireworks far outweigh the benefits”.

While fireworks can only be sold from November 2-5 each year, that doesn’t stop them being used over longer periods.