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NSW Premier Chris Minns admits ‘mistake’ not acting on Sydney Opera House pro-Palestinian protest warnings

The NSW premier has admitted he made a “mistake” by not acting on warnings that a pro-Palestinian protest outside the Sydney Opera House earlier this month could escalate.

The government has faced criticism for its decision to light the opera house sails in the colours of the Israeli flag on October 9, in solidarity with the state’s Jewish community, while not stopping a pro-Palestinian protest on the forecourt.

Documents produced to parliament yesterday reveal senior police were warned a protest would converge on the area, and worried it would “escalate current tensions”.

Some people who attended the rally on the Monday evening were filmed chanting racist abuse, while others lit flares.

Three men have since been charged after a man was allegedly assaulted and spat on.

Premier Chris Minns faced questions during budget estimates today, and admitted he knew about the protesters’ plans to march on the opera house, but did not ask for a risk assessment.

He said he regrets not taking it more seriously.

“There were literally scores of calls between my chief of staff, New South Wales Police, the minister for police, the minister for multiculturalism, but generally speaking, yes, I was made aware of it,” he said.

Minns regrets not providing safe space for Jewish community

Opposition MLC Damien Tudehope asked Mr Minns whether those conversations triggered concerns about security risks.

“Look in all candour, not to the extent that it should have,” Mr Minns said.

A large crowd gathered outside the Opera House in support of Palestinian people.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

He said Police Minister Yasmin Catley did not specifically raise police concerns with him.

“But in fairness to her, I’d made the decision without asking for security advice from her.”

He told the hearing he regrets not providing a safe space for the Jewish community to mourn, following the attack by Hamas militants in Israel.

“I made an error there,” he said.

“It should have been the case that once the decision was made to light up the Opera House, that there was a decision by the government to give the Jewish community, in particular, an opportunity to commemorate and mourn the death of so many innocent civilians.”

He said in hindsight, protesters should have been stopped from marching to the Opera House.

Previously, Mr Minns said the decision to facilitate the march was made by NSW Police, and politicians should not intervene in operational decisions.

But he has stood by his decision to light the landmark in blue and white despite security concerns.

“If your primary responsibility is public safety and public order, then the immediate answer is that you wouldn’t want to light it up,” he said.

“But my obligations are broader than that.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-25/premier-responds-protest-opera-house-warnings/103018602 NSW Premier Chris Minns admits ‘mistake’ not acting on Sydney Opera House pro-Palestinian protest warnings

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