The Weekly Notebook – Liberal philistines vandalise Opera House

Liberal Party philistines back Opera House vandalism

Pastor Scott Morrison, Australia ’s latest Prime Minister, has found himself in trouble again due to his Pentecostal verbosity. Giving strong support to advertising horse racing on the sails of the Sydney Opera House Morrison said the decision was “a no-brainer”.

He’s right, of course. No one with any brains would turn the Opera House sails into an advertising billboard.

That’s probably why NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley and “hard left” faction leader, Anthony Albanese, also supported the desecration of Australia’s most admired building. They provided proof, if it was needed, that having no brains is a shared condition “across the aisles”.

Can you imagine any other Australian prime minister, Liberal or Labor, allowing horse racing (an emphatic encouragement to gambling) to be advertised on the building described as the nation’s “temple of culture”? I can’t.

PM Scott Morrison declares Opera House a “billboard”

Welcome to Morrison’s “happy clappy” crowd who believe that wealth is synonymous with Christianity, the bible, Jesus Christ and God. Get to know them because they are running the country.

While it is true that London flashes lights on its historic buildings in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere, France illuminates the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower and New York uses animated lights on the Statue of Liberty and skyscrapers in Manhattan, do these displays support horse racing and its partner in crime, gambling?

No, they tend to support other events of national sporting pride such as rugby union, golf, the Super Bowl, the Olympics etc.

All these sports, including horse racing, are perfectly legal and they provide huge enjoyment to some, but not all, people. That said, do I favour historic and heritage-listed buildings being turned into advertising billboards for sports events? No, certainly not.

But regrettably we live in an era where the defilement of history, tradition and culture has become part of the ruling social agenda. It’s an era in which people are “taught the price of everything, and the value of nothing”.

Anything of grandeur, beauty, imagination, inspiration and originality appeals to the souls, the hearts and minds of most people. They stop in their tracks, sit down, gather their thoughts in silence and maybe take a photograph to remember the occasion.

In other people, however, it triggers something else. They ask themselves: “How can we use this building in an advertising campaign? How can we create a tourist “icon” and send travellers to see it? How can we make a TV travel slot to advertise the building and its treasures? How can we make money out of it?”

You can see such people on the ABC’s Gruen programme, laughing themselves silly while they discuss how to trash symbols of worth and turn them into symbols of commerce.

As far as these folk are concerned, nothing is sacred while many others believe these buildings are sacred monuments to culture and history.

However, under the ruling laws of neo-conservativism, or neo-liberalism, anyone who stands in the way of the “free market” is an enemy of “freedom”. Really?

This week I was delighted to join tens of thousands of passionate culture lovers – the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of The Enlightenment – in calling out the philistines and would-be culture-trashers.

We found a voice; don’t lose it

Alan Jones is unwell

The State and Federal Governments’ promotion of the Sydney Opera House as “an advertising billboard” triggered the public outcry. So far, more than 300,000 people have signed a protest petition calling for an advertising ban on the heritage landmark.

Their opinion has been ignored and ridiculed by Pastor Morrison, NSW Premier Berejiklian and her Sports Minister Stuart Ayres. They have made statements that people have “over-reacted” or become “hysterical”.

They haven’t. People have behaved with amazing restraint and conducted their protest campaign with style, ingenuity and grace.

Politicians from the major political parties – Liberal, Labor and National – come out of the Opera House debacle covered in shame. The Clover Moore independents – Alex Greenwich, State MP for Sydney and Wentworth independent candidate Licia Heath –  were sound but unconvincing.
On the other hand, NSW Greens MPs, Jennie Leong (Member for Newtown) and David Shoebridge (Upper House) were candid, courageous and effective. Ms Leong said: “People have said enough to bullies, enough to the idea that people with power can buy this city.”

Alan Jones: on-air rant

However, some of the online responses to the role played by radio broadcaster Alan Jones were quite unacceptable. Jones, an extreme right-wing Liberal Party zealot, appeared to terrorise the government into flooding the sails of the Opera House with racing data. He even threatened to have the Opera House CEO Louise Herron sacked if she didn’t submit to the Randwick agenda that he was promoting on air. This prompted calls on the dreaded “social media” for Jones to be sacked, tarred and feathered and locked in public stocks. Really?

This is MeTo madness. It opens the door for social media nutters and reactionary politicians to turn upon any media figure that they don’t like and run them out of town. While Americans have a definite predilection for McCarthyism, book bonfires, lynchings and witch burnings, Australians should avoid them at all costs. They are no part of our DNA.

Jones, aged 77, is a deranged ranter of right-wing causes; he’s been doing it on 2UE, then 2GB, now Macquarie Media, for 40 years. If citizens and advertisers object to his opinions, they have a simple device to stop him. The switch-off button. Don’t listen. The advertising agencies can follow suit by taking ads off his show.

Without advertising cash, hundreds of emails and “I love you, Alan” messages pouring into his studio, Jones would be history. Cactus. A washed up frustrated, angry and insecure old man talking to his long-dead mother in a darkened room scented with patchouli and odour from bed pans.

Shadow over Wentworth by-election

The Liberal Party’s vandalism of the Opera House could not be more timely. With a by-election in the blue ribbon seat of Wentworth on Saturday, October 20, the Liberal vote seems certain to crash.

Once considered the safest Liberal Party seat in NSW, if not Australia, the Liberals have been hit amidships by the Opera House debacle which has aroused passions around the world.

“I can’t work out what all the fuss is about,” said Pastor Morrison. Well, it may become more apparent next Saturday night when the Wentworth votes are counted.

Liberal voters will tolerate large-scale vandalism anywhere in Australia but not on their own sacred turf on the harbourside (stolen from indigenous Australians).

Australia’s richest families, who live in Wentworth, support advertising billboards – but not on “their” Opera House. (By the way, they think the Opera House is “theirs” whereas it belongs to the people of NSW who paid for it and built it).

Alan Jones, who is Rupert Murdoch’s “star” recruit to his crazed pay TV network, has given his prediction for the Wentworth outcome: “I’ll give you a tip. Sharma [Liberal] will win easily. This is the momentum Scott Morrison is looking for. He [Sharma] is the Winx of Australian politics, last at the turn and then boom! and he goes onto win.”

Wouldn’t it be terrific to see Mr Jones proved wrong?

Anyone seen the chairman?

By the way, where is the Opera House Trust chairman Nicholas Moore, CEO of Macquarie Bank? Dare I suggest reciting: “Sing a song of sixpence” followed by its key line: “The king is in his counting house, counting out his money”.

Nicholas Moore of Macquarie Group – chair of the Sydney Opera House Trust

Moore is part of the NSW “Liberal Party family” which includes the Morrisons, the (second generation) Bairds, the Berejiklians and the odious “Golden Pair”, Stuart Ayres and Mrs Ayres, aka Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne. Their lives are devoted to the neo-con Trifecta: personal ambition, wealth and god.

Moore’s silence is not a mystery. Why would he make any criticism of the Morrison or Berejiklian Coalition Governments? He is their favourite banker. When it comes to defending the interests of his bank or the Opera House, guess which side Moore takes? Give that punter an Everest  prize!

Lest we remember

“No sensitive person can forget the wretched convicts who were dumped on this barren shore on January 26, 1788, or the thousands more who were transported during the next 60 years until the settlers rebelled against this inhuman policy. No wonder that all attempts to make Australia Day, the day when Captain Phillip raised the British flag at Sydney Cove, a national holiday have failed. Deep in the heart of Sydney, beneath the brashness and the pride and the boasting, is a memory of human suffering, and a resentment against those who caused it.”

  • John Douglas Pringle, Australian Accent, Chatto and Windus, 1961

“Australia Day, January 26, commemorates the day when Captain Cook stepped ashore. That is when the course of our nation changed forever. And from then on, we’ve built an incredibly successful society, best multicultural society in the world.”

  • Bridget McKenzie, Deputy Leader of the National Party, chair of Federal Parliament’s Friends of Shooting and owner of several shotguns

PS: In fact, Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet of soldiers and convicts under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip in January 1788. Cook, then a lowly lieutenant NOT a captain, never landed at Sydney Cove but in Botany Bay which is further south. Cook had been dead for nine years when Phillip rowed ashore.

Further Opera House reading (click on the links):

Judith White’s Culture Heist

Jenny Leong’s commentary

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