Prime Minister John Key says a ban on fireworks appears to be coming closer, but he is reluctant for the Government to impose one immediately for fear of being accused of running a "nanny state".
The Government is not actively looking at changing in the rules on fireworks sales, but a select committee will this week consider a 25,000-signature petition calling for a ban on private sales. The online petition's organisers support public firework displays.
Mr Key said yesterday there had been a slow shift in New Zealand towards more community-led public displays, and there was now a greater recognition of the threat of fireworks to public safety and animal welfare.
He said the issue was raised every year, but he detected a gradual public groundswell towards a complete ban on private sales.
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But he was not interested in leading this change yet. He was also wary that an immediate Government ban could be perceived as nanny state.
"You don't want to take away the last bit of fun that people have, but in reality they do present a risk both to pets and to personal safety."
The Government introduced stricter fireworks regulations in 2008 including a shorter period for sales, a higher purchase age, and restrictions on the size and power of products.
Those changes have led to a fall in the number of fireworks-related ACC claims, Fire Service callouts and hospital admissions.