Monday, October 08, 2018

Opera House ‘billboard’ anger builds

Federal and New South Wales state politicians  have defended the decision to advertise a horse racing event on the Sydney Opera House against a growing backlash. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the plan to display the colours of the horses’ silks and the Everest Cup logo was “a good compromise” and “the right thing for Sydney and for NSW”. Prime minister Scott Morrison said he “would put the Bathurst 1000 on the Harbour Bridge if I thought it would get more people there”, and that the sails of the Opera House were “the biggest billboard Sydney has”. A petition demanding the advertisement be cancelled has gathered more than 100,000 signatures in less than 48 hours, while Fairfax reported that racing magnate John Messara, a close associate of Sydney shock jock Alan Jones, had financial ties to The Everest.

In the United States, conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice, triggering widespread protests and demonstrations. The US Senate voted to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination 50 votes to 48, as more than 1000 women’s rights activists broke through barricades and protested on the nearby supreme court building’s front steps. Hundreds of people were arrested, including several people who were removed from the Senate public galleries as the final vote was under way. Former Yale Law School dean Robert Post said Kavanaugh’s “very presence will undermine the court’s claim to legitimacy”, and his tenure would “be an American tragedy”.

In Brazil, voters have headed to the polls to elect a new president. For months, opinion polling has favoured far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who received an electoral boost after being stabbed at a campaign rally in August. Incarcerated former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was disqualified from running in September, with his replacement, Fernando Haddad, struggling to build popular support. Bolsonaro’s racist and homophobic remarks, as well as his praise for Brazil’s former military dictatorship, have raised fears of a Donald Trump-style presidency. Bolsonaro would have to face a run-off vote against his most popular opponent if he fails to win more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round.

And disability advocate and actor Quentin Kenihan has died. Besides his role as Corpus Colossus in Mad Max: Fury Road, Kenihan, 43, was best known for his regular appearances on the ABC and Network Ten, and had announced his intent to run for Adelaide City Council. The subject of a documentary by broadcaster Mike Willesee when he was a child, Kenihan detailed his history of mental illness and substance abuse in a 2016 autobiography, Not All Superheroes Wear Capes. Friends, politicians and journalists paid tribute to Kenihan, with South Australian opposition leader Peter Malinauskas remembering him as “a larger than life figure who is going to be sorely missed”.


“Rebecca Traister has devoted a large part of her career to writing about women in politics, spending years covering Hillary Clinton, authoring All the Single Ladies in 2009, and most recently covering women’s anger in our current political moment, like the response to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice.”


“17 years into America’s longest war, in which the argument for protecting and ‘saving’ Afghan women has long shaped the rhetoric to invade and maintain troop presence, their advancement in the security sector is still largely at odds with cultural perceptions of women’s place in society. Progress, as defined by the United States and NATO leadership, has been painfully slow.”


“Jan Theiler had never found a body, let alone two, poking out of the ice. But he was not particularly disturbed. For one, they clearly had been there for many years: The style of the boots and the bottle suggested decades. And everyone knew people have gone missing on this mountain, especially years ago, when the ice was much thicker and crevasses much deeper.”



“The New South Wales government is facing a growing backlash over a decision to display an advertisement for a coming horse race on the sails of the Sydney Opera House ... The government’s decision on Friday night to order the Opera House to honour Racing NSW’s application came after a public campaign by the rightwing shock jock Alan Jones.”


“A move towards open-air concerts on the Opera House steps and the expansion of the popular Opera Bar has well-known residents of the Bennelong apartment building, better known as ‘the Toaster’, up in arms over what they say is its increasing commercialisation ... Jones has objected to shipping containers set up around the Opera House before outdoor concerts, likening it to a ‘bomb site’ and an ‘eyesore’.”


Girl with a Balloon (2006) was the final lot of the night, and just as the canvas hammered at £953,829 – exactly the same figure as the artist’s previous auction record, achieved in 2008 – an alarm was triggered inside the work of art. Onlookers turned just in time to see the canvas slip through its faux-gilt frame and be shredded into pieces.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.