The NSW government has overturned a decision made by the Sydney Opera House CEO to not display the Everest logo, horses, jockey numbers and names on its sails for next Saturday‘s race.
Per The Guardian, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the decision on Friday afternoon following intense pressure from The Daily Telegraph and 2GB‘s Alan Jones.
Racing NSW had applied to the Opera House with a request to promote the Everest horse race on October 13 by displaying the horses’ names, numbers, and colours on the Opera House sails. However, Opera House CEO Louise Herron only accepted part of the request – specifically, to only have the colours on the sails.
In response, Jones phoned Herron on-air and aggressively confronted her about her decision.
It kicked off with Jones saying, “Louise, people reading The Telegraph newspaper today on the front page will be saying ‘Who the hell do you think you are? You don’t own the Opera House’ We own it. We own the Opera House. You don’t have the right to fence it off.”
As Herron tried to explain her reasoning, Jones interrupted her and angrily claimed that if Herron dares to deny the Opera House this promotion then Berejiklian should fire her.
“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 was Gladys Berejiklian I’d pick up the phone and sack you today.”
Despite the blatant aggression, Herron remained calm and told Jones that she and her staff are happy to give the go ahead to part of Racing NSW’s request – to display the jockeys’ colours on the Opera House sails.
“We have no problem with that, I spoke to Peter -” but again Herron was cut off by Jones saying “this means nothing”.
“What we won’t do,” Herron continued, “is put text or video of horses running or horses’ numbers or names or the Everest logo on the Opera House.
“It’s not a billboard.”
At this point, Jones again said – on behalf of his audience – that Herron should be sacked and then brought Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys on-air. The CEO agreed that displaying the jockeys’ colours on the sails “means nothing”.
“Our proposal was the barrier draw. You can’t do a barrier draw without putting the horse’s name and the number. The whole idea of the promotion is to beam that around the world by doing this in an unique landmark in Sydney.”
The interview ended with Jones saying to Herron:
“Okay, I’m telling you I’ll be speaking to Gladys Berejiklian in about three minutes and if you can’t come to the party Louise you should lose your job. You are not the owner of the Opera House. You are managing it for all of us, it’s an asset for all of us and V’landys is trying to promote Australia to the rest of the world and it’s good for the economy. So Louise, I’m running out of time but you might be running out of time as well.”
As The Guardian reports, Herron has not been sacked.
Listen to the full six minute confrontation HERE.