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'Advertise here. Call Alan': Broadcaster pranked as Opera House row grows

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Comedians have ridiculed the NSW government’s plan to promote a horse race on the sails of the Opera House by projecting the words “Advertise here. Call Alan” onto the famous building.

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Satirical group The Chaser posted a video of the prank on Tuesday morning where they can also be seen shining the message, which was accompanied by Alan Jones’ purported mobile number, onto NSW Parliament House and the NSW Art Gallery.

The top-rated broadcaster publicly berated and called for the sacking of Opera House chief executive Louise Herron on Friday after she ruled out allowing words or branding highlighting The Everest race to be projected onto the building.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian then intervened within hours of the interview to allow the horse race’s promotion but has denied she caved in to Jones.

“If anyone wants to advertise on the biggest billboards in Sydney, this guy called Alan is apparently in charge. Call him,” The Chaser wrote on Facebook alongside the video.

In the video, Chaser comedian Charles Firth is shown unsuccessfully trying to talk his way past a security guard at the Opera House before they managed to project their message onto the famous landmark.

“Alan called your boss,” he tells the guard.

“Gave her a big talking to … you’re allowed to project on there, that’s the biggest billboard in Sydney, mate.”

This morning Jones said he regretted his choice of words after hearing their impact “on some people” including Herron.

“I don’t believe my words or actions qualify as those of a bully or a misogynist but there are clearly many people who do,” Jones said on 2GB.

“My intention was to deal with the issue about which I feel very passionately and not to bully or demean Louise Herron.

“So to Louise, and to those people who’ve been offended, if we are offended, that was not my intention. I do apologise.”

Jones and Berejiklian have faced an increasingly vocal backlash after she intervened within hours of the interview to allow the horse race to be promoted on the Opera House.

His apology came as a petition opposing the government’s decision was delivered to NSW parliament after topping more than 230,000 signatures.

Change.org says the appeal organised by Sydney father Mike Woodcock is the website’s “fastest growing petition” in recent memory.

Woodcock said it would be “awesome” if Berejiklian reversed her decision.

“What I’m hoping it that she will come down and take a petition from 232,000 people as readily as she’ll take a phone call from north of the bridge,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“To just remind NSW, and everyone that signed this, that democracy works, everyone has a voice and it is occasionally listened to.”

Joining him outside NSW parliament was Windsor veterinarian Derek Major, who woke up at 5am to catch the train into the CBD to show his support for the petition.

“I feel very strongly about this … I’m an opera-goer, I’m a cricket player, I follow the football, I derive my livelihood out of horse racing,” he told AAP.

“I just separate that from the Everest horse race. It’s not a national icon at all, it’s an elitist race – good luck to them, but I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”

The Premier on Monday stood by her decision saying she was “incredibly comfortable” with it despite widespread perceptions she had caved in to Jones, which she denies.

The barrier draw for The Everest is due to be projected on the shells of the Opera House from 8pm tonight, alongside a planned protest on the foreshore.

Protest organiser Rachel Evans says there’s “a lot of anger” about the promotion which she’s described as an “assault on the Opera House”.

Nearly 3000 people are expected to attend and plan to disrupt the projection with torches and mobile phone lights.

Everest organiser Racing NSW says it’s received death threats in the wake of furore. However, AAP understands NSW Police has not received any formal complaints.

– AAP

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