The decision to project advertisements for The Everest horse race onto the side of Sydney’s iconic Opera House from Tuesday has ruffled plenty of feathers, sparking rows between those in favour and those against the gambling publicity campaign.
Those in disagreement with the adverts, which included the Opera House’s CEO Louise Herron, believe the adverts would taint the Opera House’s symbolic status as one of the world’s most impressive heritage sites, while others believe the ads would provide an enormous benefit to the Aussie economy.
While many people argue that the gambling-centric event should not be promoted at the world heritage site, others, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have questioned why other organisations, such as Samsung, the Wallabies and even Mardi Gras, have been allowed to advertise on its famous sails without issue.
Insisting it will benefit the entire state by drawing attention to the major sporting event, the PM told Alan Jones on 2GB on Monday: “It’s not as though they’re painting it on there. It’s some lights flashing up there for a brief moment in time and that goes all around the world.
“And they do it for other things, the Wallabies indeed and others. I just don’t understand why we tie ourselves up in knots about these things.”
.@ScottMorrisonMP on using the Opera House to advertise horse racing: I would put an advertisement for the Bathurst 1000 on the Harbour Bridge if I thought it would get people there.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) October 7, 2018
However, not everyone agrees with Morrison, as members of the public took to social media to air their own opinions on the proposal, with one saying: “Let’s use the Opera House as a giant ad for gambling. What a great idea… said no one ever! WTF are they thinking?”
Another wrote: “@ScottMorrisonMP if you don’t understand the argument against the Everest advertising on the Opera house, you are out of touch with the Australian people. In the words of your ‘illustrious’ predecessor, ‘You’re a disgrace! Resign!’ De ja vu much?”
There are others though who are strongly in favour, with one supporter saying: “Gamblers paid for the Opera House Peter with a lottery. The Everest pictures will be sent all around the world. What a wonderful promotion for Sydney!”
Another said: “I don’t know what the big deal with using the Opera House to promote the Everest is all about we used it for other sports cricket Rugby even the Mardi Cras it has nothing to do with gambling it’s just the race in it’s self who does it harm nobody.”
Willy Hall, the son of architect Peter Hall who completed the world-renowned venue, told the Sydney Morning Herald that his father would have been appalled at the decision to allow this advertising to go ahead. He said: “My father would have been sickened by it … he would not have condoned advertising on the building in any way, lucky he’s not around to see the desecration of our beautiful iconic masterpiece.”
I really enjoyed listening to the passionate defence of an ad free Opera House sails from former CEO Michael Lynch on @RNBreakfast And he dared to directly raise the bullying of the current CEO. No tiptoeing around as is the custom of so many interviews these days. #nswpol
— Cheryl Kernot (@cheryl_kernot) October 7, 2018
The plans were thrust into the limelight on Friday when Herron went head-to-head with shock jock Alan Jones, as she attempted to explain how the proposal to conduct the barrier draw, with the horses names and numbers, and The Everest logo, would breach the landmark’s world heritage status policy.
A fired up Jones cut her off mid-sentence, saying: “We own the Opera House, do you get that message? You don’t, you manage it. And if you can’t give the go ahead for this to happen to an event that’s providing $100 million to the economy, delivering a tourism boom to Sydney to send Sydney around the world. If I were Gladys Berejiklian I’d pick up the phone and sack you today.”
Jones then warned his guest that he would be speaking to the NSW Premier and calling for Herron to be sacked, telling her she “could be running out of time” in her position if she “doesn’t come to the party”.
Following the public lambasting of Herron, Berejiklian intervened and gave Racing New South Wales the go ahead to display a compromised version of their proposed adverts, telling the SMH that she was positive her decision to allow the display is “the right thing for Sydney”.
“The version that is going to be displayed on Tuesday is much toned down from what the government was first presented with,” she said. “There’ll be no logos, no names, the only words on there are actually the words of the trophy itself and that is consistent with what has happened in the past.”
However Jones’ “bully-boy tactics” were later blasted by former CEO of the Opera House Michael Lynch, who defended his successor, telling RN radio on Monday morning: “I think the Prime Minister’s kidding himself. I think he should preparing himself to go back to a job in tourism driving a bus post-the next election, because I don’t think it’s inappropriate that the PM interferes.
“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. He wouldn’t have done it if it had been me. He only did it because he could use his bully boy tactics.”