Precedent. This is what is at risk if Racing NSW gets its way to promote the “richest race in the world on turf”. On Friday, a combative radio interview between Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron and 2GB’s Alan Jones created a national debate.
The Everest barrier draw will be held on the steps of the world heritage listed Opera House. The pitch was for the sails to light up with text and the colours of the jockey.
There are many issues with what went down, and the aftermath, of that radio interview. Jones made an error in judgment when he said the Opera House belonged to the people of Australia. He assumed everyone would agree that The Everest details should be projected onto the sails. He was wrong.
He also made an error in judgment in how he spoke to Herron.
Herron, admirably, held her composure throughout. Her strength during that interview kept the focus on the issue. You see, this debate could have easily turned into a discussion on gender and bullying. Thankfully, it didn’t.
Which brings us back to the hot topic: what is appropriate on the sails?
Advertising should be ruled out, instantly.
Those in favour of The Everest on the sails are quick to point out other events or milestones projected in the past. This has included Vivid, Mardi Gras and a message to cheering on the Wallabies.
They argue that the Eiffel Tower has done something similar. Back in 1925, Andre Citroen rented the Eiffel Tower and had the Citroen name branded across it using 250,000 lights. It was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest advertisement.
These days the tower is transformed into temporary light shows for significant events or moments in history, such as a memorial following the 2015 terrorist attack. Other times have been relating to art. Much like the Opera House, the Eiffel Tower is connecting the community, not selling to it.
The messages must not divide a community, but instead, unite. The decision should not be made based on the bottom line – this sets a precedent that could never be contained.