Chris Minns defends keeping lights off King Charles’ coronation

Prime Minister Chris Minns has defended his government’s decision not to light the sails of the Sydney Opera House for King Charles’ coronation at the weekend, saying the high cost of the lights could be better used elsewhere.

Highlighting a change in the way the state government is dealing with a growing number of requests to illuminate Sydney’s most iconic building, the Prime Minister said the government has been inundated with requests from organizations and religious groups.

The sails of the Sydney Opera House were lit after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The sails of the Sydney Opera House were lit after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.Credit: Markus Baker

“In 2012 the opera house was illuminated for 23 days [a year]’ he said on Nine’s 2GB radio program on Monday morning. “Now it’s over 70 days. The costs add up to NSW taxpayers every time.”

Lighting the opera house costs between $80,000 and $100,000 each night. The previous coalition government had approved the building’s lighting for the event, but Minns opposed the move once in office.

“Of course I respect the king, but I pay attention to where and when we spend taxpayers’ money,” he said.

In a qualification of the eligibility criteria for lighting the sails, Minns said he would “like to keep it for Australia and Australians and moments of sacrifice and heroism for the country or when there is a major international event in Sydney”.

Over the past year, the Opera House has been illuminated for events such as WorldPride and the day before Australia Day, as well as to commemorate significant moments such as the invasion of Ukraine, the assassination of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It will be illuminated with artwork by the late painter John Olsen this month during Vivid.

Justin Scaccy

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