Massive Public Outcry Against Horse Race On Opera House Sails

Ruben Hill
October 10, 2018

Following the NSW government's controversial choice to allow the upcoming Everest horse race to be promoted on the sails of the Sydney Opera House, an online petition supporting its CEO Louise Herron - who rejected the ads - has gained almost 150,000 signatures in a couple of days (at time of publication).

Louise Herron, its chief executive, said that the adverts would compromise the building's UN World Heritage listing as "one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity".

The furore has some asking about the influence on politicians of broadcaster Alan Jones, after his strident support for this new use of the Opera House sails.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has rejected Prime Minister Scott Morrison's description of the Sydney Opera House as a "billboard", saying a line should be drawn at describing "national heritage" as a canvas for advertising.

Almost 165,000 people had signed an online petition as of Monday against using the Opera House for the promotion, which has dominated social media in Australia.

"I say to people, have a look on Tuesday before you judge it", she said.

"It's not like they're painting it on there". After all, there is no evidence that advertising would degrade the value of the Opera House; indeed, it is possible that regular and colourful displays of prominent brand names on the otherwise bland white sails of the building would enhance, rather than diminish, its tourist appeal. I mean it's some lights flashing up there for a brief moment of time.

But the state government blocked that plan and offered the Opera House instead.

"I am absolutely offended on behalf of Louise Herron that Alan Jones could treat a woman on radio who runs this organisation in such an appalling way".

"The Opera House should not be downgraded by gambling promotions when NSW is already the most gambling-captured jurisdiction where residents lost nearly $7 billion a year on 92,000 poker machines", he told ten daily.

"Have you ever seen a film about Australia where you don't see the plane coming in over Sydney, flying in over the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge?"

The Opera House declined to comment on the controversy, referring all queries to the state government.

Critics say the decision defies Sydney Opera House rules by effectively creating a "billboard" for the racing and gambling industries.

The Opera House sails have been used in art installations and to advertise events such as the Rugby Union World Cup, but not for commercial advertising.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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