Trouble amid refusal to light Sydney Opera House for UK coronation
The Premier of New South Wales argues that taxpayers would suffer a financial burden as a result of the exorbitant cost.
The Premier of the state of New South Wales, Chris Minns, has supported the decision not to light up the sails of the Sydney Opera House in honor of King Charles' coronation - naming the cost of between $80,000 and $100,000 as a main reason why.
Minns argued that taxpayers would suffer a financial burden as a result and that the sails, often lit for major celebrations in Australia, were being lit up too often.
Speaking to Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday, he said, “It was lit up for everything from solemn occasions to … a football team that was touring,” adding, “Of course, I respect the new king but I’m mindful of where and when we spend taxpayers’ money."
“I’d like to keep it for Australia and Australians, and for moments of sacrifice and heroism for the country – or when there’s an important international event in Sydney.”
On May 6, King Charles III was officially crowned King in the first coronation in the UK since 1953, alongside his wife who is now Queen, Camilla Bowles.
Read next: Museum of Sydney to transform into Aboriginal cultural space
In 2012, the sails were turned on and lit for 23 days but last year in 2022, it was recorded as lit for 70 days as a result of various events in Australia.
However, the decision was condemned by the Australian Monarchist League in a statement saying, “Had the premier contacted the Australian Monarchist League, our members would readily have contributed towards the funding for this purpose on this important occasion".
“From now on, should taxpayer funds ever be used to light up buildings, it will prove that this decision was based on Mr. Minn’s [sic] republican sympathies and not on cost,” it continued.
In 2020, the sails were lit up to mark the 20th anniversary of athlete Cathy Freeman winning a gold at the Sydney Olympics.
Back in 2018, the state’s racing organization was controversially approved to project an ad for a horse race, which prompted hundreds of demonstrators to shine torches on the sails in protest against the commercialization of the structure.
A spokesperson for the Opera House said an “updated sails lighting policy, including greater clarity about the type and frequency of projections permitted” was in the works, adding that in the "past 10 years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of requests to illuminate the sails, including from community groups, charities, organizations, foreign embassies/consulates and the NSW government".
“As a place that belongs to all Australians, the opera house takes seriously its responsibility to protect the cultural heritage significance of the World Heritage-listed building while meeting community and artistic expectations."
“The opera house does not charge a fee for these projections, it is only required to turn off its floodlights. The costs incurred are for third-party service providers.”