Aussies bridle at horse race ad on Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House executive Louise Herron

Jones then warned his guest that he would be speaking to the NSW Premier and calling for Herron to be sacked, telling her she "could be running out of time" in her position if she "doesn't come to the party".

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday the advertising for The Everest horse race had been "toned down" since its original proposal.

Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said the advertising demonstrated the power of the Australian horse racing industry that made a profit of 3.3 billion Australian dollars ($2.3 billion) previous year. "Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has", Morrison, a former head of Tourism Australia, told reporters.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has waded into the debate by supporting the state government's decision saying it was "common sense" to advertise sporting events on the iconic site.

"These events generate massive economic opportunities".

Morrison, who supports the promotion for Saturday's Everest Cup, said he couldn't understand why people were so upset.

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"It's not as if they're painting it on there". For me what the Opera House means is that we're capable of building things of great beauty.

Another said: "I don't know what the big deal with using the Opera House to promote the Everest is all about we used it for other sports cricket Rugby even the Mardi Cras it has nothing to do with gambling it's just the race in it's self who does it harm nobody". After all, there is no evidence that advertising would degrade the value of the Opera House; indeed, it is possible that regular and colourful displays of prominent brand names on the otherwise bland white sails of the building would enhance, rather than diminish, its tourist appeal.

Almost 165,000 people had signed an online petition as of Monday against using the Opera House for the promotion, which has dominated social media in Australia.

Jones spoke to Herron and Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys earlier this week, putting pressure on the Opera House CEO to reverse the decision.

"Let's remind Alan that the Opera House truly does belong to everyone, by supporting Louise Herron's staunch defence of one of our city and country's few instantly recognisable heritage landmarks", wrote petition organiser Mike Woodcock in its description. The Everest is the world's richest turf race and injected $100 million into the NSW economy a year ago.

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