There are 1.4 billion reasons, according to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, for the federal government to illuminate the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday night in the national colors of India.
The sails were left blank at the King’s Coronation, despite other national landmarks being lit up purple for the occasion, which sparked criticism after the projection was announced.
The QUAD leaders conference was scheduled to take place at the Opera House on Wednesday but was postponed last week owing to US Vice President Joe Biden’s unforeseen domestic obligations.
The illuminating of the sails, which might cost between $80,000 and $100,000, follows a rock star welcome for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was greeted by 21,000 people on Tuesday night at an event in Western Sydney.
In a meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Albanese and his Indian colleague signed an agreement to reduce people smuggling and strengthen ties between their nations.
Mr. Albanese said that it was not up to his government to decide whether or not to illuminate the Opera House for the coronation, and that it was right to move forward with paying tribute to India in the exhibition.
“One of the things about lighting up the Opera House is that it projects our image to the world,” Mr Albanese told 2GB.
“It will mean that there is coverage … There are 1.4 billion reasons why we want the Indian flag on the Opera House, because it is the largest population in the world.
“Two thirds of those 1.4 billion people are under the age of 35. We want a relationship with them – we want them to come to Australia, to bring their dollars, to create jobs and create that economic activity in the tourism sector.”
Chris Minns, the premier of NSW, faced criticism earlier this month for his decision to “protect the taxpayers’ money” by forgoing lighting up the Opera House for the Coronation.
In 2022, the Opera House was lit 70 times at a cost to the general public of $5.6 million to $7 million.
At the time, Mr. Minns stated that he thought it was critical to use taxpayer funds prudently.
Sincerely, he said, “I think it was just being lit up too frequently.”