8 January 2004

Opera House to undergo $9m security upgrade

People who climb, damage or deface the Sydney Opera House could face up to six months jail and hefty fines under new security measures announced by the NSW government today.

NSW Premier Bob Carr today said an additional $9 million in state government funding would be used to upgrade security at Australia's most recognised international icon.

'Sydney is an open city and we are very conscious the Sydney Opera House needs optimal security,' Mr Carr told reporters in Sydney.

The money would be used to improve vehicle security at the building, provide new in-house cameras, and change the locks, which have not been touched since 1973.

The state government will also create a specific offence this year for those contemplating a so-called 'attack' on the building.

The security boost follows the actions of peace activists David Burgess, 33, and Will Saunders, 42, who were convicted of malicious damage after painting 'No War' on the tallest sail of the Sydney Opera House on March 18.

This a bad idea. It's an exact analogy to US proposals for a flagburning amendment. There's an existing offence of malicious damage. Is malicious damage to the Opera House to carry heavier penalties or is it just to be shadow legislation that restates an existing offence in different terms?

Just for the record I do not endorse painting slogans on the Opera House. I also do not endorse bad law made as a campaign tactic.

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