On Monday night’s episode of The Project, a heated argument emerged between co-hosts Peter Helliar and Steve Price regarding the decision by the government to allow Racing NSW advertising to be projected onto the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
On Friday night, the NSW government instructed the Sydney Opera House to set aside its policies and promote a $13 million horse race.
Steve Price, who works alongside Alan Jones – a vocal advocate of the advertising – said he couldn’t see what “the big deal was”.
The radio host then tried to argue that it was promotion rather than advertising, a position that garnered laughter from the panel and the audience.
“It is advertising,” Peter Helliar responded emphatically.
Price went on to argue, “it’s a few lights flashed up on the sails briefly, there’s no graffiti… it’s promotion of a NSW sporting event,” before accusing Helliar of being “obsessed” with this story.
“You don’t even live in Sydney,” he remarked. “You didn’t even pay for the Opera House — I did!”
Helliar, a comedian known for his light take on news of the day, pointed at Price and said, “You’ve made me angry”, before laughing with a shake of his head, “You’re a wanker”.
He later referred to Jones’ on-air interview as “disgusting,” and the treatment of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as “bullying”.
Price refused to criticise his colleague.
A petition calling for the protection of the cultural landmark has attracted almost a quarter of a million signatures. Many residents of NSW are concerned the decision will turn the Opera House into nothing more than a billboard.
Sydney Opera House CEO, Louise Herron, explained to The Sydney Morning Herald: “The community regards the Opera House as its asset to be treated with respect, to be treated as the treasure it is.”
Herron added that the decision could compromise the World Heritage status of the taxpayer-owned landmark.