Chris Minns defends keeping lights off King Charles coronation

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

Flagging a change in the way the state government deals with a growing number of requests to light Sydney’s most famous building, the premier said the government had been inundated with requests from organisations and religious groups.

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

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

“In 2012, the Opera House was lit up 23 days over [a year],” he said on Nine’s 2GB radio program on Monday morning. “It’s up to over 70 days now. The cost adds up to the NSW taxpayers every time you do it.”

Lighting the Opera House costs between $80,000 and $100,000 every night. The previous Coalition government had approved lighting the building for the event, but Minns rejected the move once in office.

“Of course I respect the King, but I’m mindful of where and when we spend taxpayer money,” he said.

In a narrowing of eligibility criteria for the lighting of 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’s an important international event in Sydney”.

Over the last year, the Opera House has been lit up for events including WorldPride and the day before Australia Day, and 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 lit up with artwork from the late painter John Olsen during Vivid this month.

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