New South Wales government tells Unesco-listed venue to comply after talkback radio host Alan Jones berates chief executive

The sails of the Sydney Opera House will be lit up to promote a horse race under Racing NSW submission to the Opera House.
The sails of the Sydney Opera House will be lit up to promote a horse race under Racing NSW submission to the Opera House. © Horse Racing NSW

The NSW government has ordered the Sydney Opera House to display a racing trophy with the word Everest on it and jockey numbers and colours on its sails in contravention of a policy to prevent the commercialisation of the building.

The decision by premier Gladys Berejiklian came late on Friday afternoon after intense pressure from the Daily Telegraph and 2GB’s Alan Jones to accept a plan by Racing NSW to promote the Everest Cup on the iconic landmark.

Racing NSW applied to the Opera House to use it as a venue to promote a horse race on Saturday 13 October, but Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron drew the line at projecting horses’ names, the name of the race and the numbers of the barriers onto the Opera House sails.

Jones then called for Herron to be sacked, in an extraordinarily aggressive interview after she refused to use the building’s sails as a billboard for Racing NSW, and said only the colours of the jockeys would be acceptable.

The Sydney shock jock harangued Herron on his top-rating show on Friday morning, refusing to listen to her answers. He threatened to tell Berejiklian to sack her.

Berejiklian did not sack Herron but she did use her powers to overturn her decision, in what is seen as a major victory for Jones.

“People reading the Daily Telegraph this morning would be thinking ‘who the hell do you think you are, you don’t own the Opera House, we own it ... you manage it,” Jones said.

“You don’t have a right to fence it off.

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