More than a thousand protesters shined torchlights on the Sydney Opera House in outrage against the promotion of a multi-million dollar horse race on the icon’s sails.
Protesters, including Australian singer Jimmy Barnes, armed with smartphones and torches attempted to disrupt the projection of the barrier draw for The Everest onto the Opera House shells on Tuesday night.
Among the chanting protesters was eight-year-old Kick McKinnon who was sitting on her father’s shoulders chanting “sails not for sale”.
The protest followed Racing NSW’s decision to cancel its live barrier draw for Saturday’s $13 million race, citing security risks amid ongoing public outrage.
Instead, it conducted the draw in private in the morning and beamed its results on the sails in the evening.
Protest at Opera House pic.twitter.com/0sVWk7Pgyp
— Joe O’Brien (@JoeABCNews) October 9, 2018
The decision to cancel the live draw came after broadcaster Alan Jones publicly apologised for his on-air treatment of the Opera House chief executive.
Jones had called for Louise Herron to be sacked during a testy confrontation on Friday after she ruled out allowing words or branding highlighting The Everest to be projected onto the Opera House because “it’s not a billboard”.
Jones and Premier Gladys Berejiklian faced vocal backlash after she intervened within hours of the interview to allow the horse race to be promoted on the Opera House.
More than 300,000 people have signed a petition protesting the promotion, while the NSW National Trust has questioned whether the move was legal.
Conservation director Graham Quint on Monday said the legal exemptions allowing projection onto the sails made clear they must be “non-commercial occasions of brief duration”.
When asked whether the promotion was legal, a spokesman for NSW Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton pointed to the same exemptions they had been questioned over.
“The Opera House management has approved exemptions under the Heritage Act to make these types of decisions,” the spokesman said.