Australia

Melbourne Prepares to Party

A thousand extra police officers will be deployed around Melbourne on New Year’s Eve, but officers say there’s no specific threat to the festivities and Melburnians can be confident they will be safe.

Extra concrete bollards will be installed in the city and at Docklands and both areas will be closed to traffic, as the city remains cautious after the recent Flinders Street car attack and the November arrest of a man who allegedly planned to shoot at New Year’s Eve crowds.

Between 300,000 and 500,000 people are expected in the CBD on Sunday night for the annual fireworks display, which the City of Melbourne describes as the biggest ever.

Fourteen tonnes of fireworks will be set off from 22 buildings, with events at four “live sites” around the city.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said authorities are not aware of any “specific threat” to New Year’s Eve celebrations in Melbourne or at any of the 53 events being held around the state.

Across Victoria, 2,000 extra police officers will be deployed, including 1,000 plain-clothes and uniform officers in Melbourne.

Extra Protective Service Officers will also be on duty.

Fireworks over the Yarra River in Melbourne

There are heightened security concerns in the city after a car was driven into pedestrians on Flinders Street earlier this month, injuring 19 people.

Werribee man was arrested in November after allegedly trying to get a gun to shoot people in Federation Square on New Year’s Eve.

Deputy Commissioner Crisp said there would be an “extremely visible presence” on what is being billed as the “biggest night of the year”.

“The message is come out and have a great time,” Deputy Commissioner Crisp said.

“We have done the work and are confident it will be a safe New Year’s Eve.”

However, Premier Daniel Andrews issued this warning:

“Don’t come into the city to cause trouble. Don’t be drinking too much alcohol. Common sense lessons are even more important when there are so many people in Melbourne out to have a good time.”

Map of the live sites for New Year's Eve celebrations at midnight in Melbourne.

‘If it doesn’t look right, speak up’

Security in the CBD has already been increased with the installation of concrete bollards to prevent vehicle attacks, and a new loudspeaker system to broadcast information in emergencies.

New Year’s Eve celebrations:

  • Early fireworks at Yarra Park and Footscray Park at 9:30pm
  • Fireworks “live sites” at Treasury Gardens, Docklands, Flagstaff Gardens and Kings Domain
  • Trains running to a Sunday timetable
  • Flinders St and Southern Cross stations open all night

The loudspeaker system was tested on Wednesday and can be activated at short notice.

“It is almost instantaneous in terms of these types of planned events,” Deputy Commissioner Crisp said.

“We will have someone at that location where they can get messages out basically straightaway.”

The Premier urged members of the public to alert authorities to any suspicious behaviour.

“If you see something that doesn’t add up, if you’re suspicious about a person’s conduct, then speak to one of those hundreds of extra uniformed police out and about on Sunday night,” Mr Andrews said.

Public Transport Victoria defended a decision not to run the Night Rider bus on New Year’s Eve, saying only 50 people used the service last year.

Instead there will be an additional 100 trains running, capable of carrying up to 100,000 people.

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