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Attacks on Blanchett Don’t Cut It

May 30, 2011

Criticisms of prominent Australian actor Cate Blanchett for participating in the climate debate are absurd.

Is it being implied that an Australian who enjoys success in an international market and the rewards that come with it forgoes the right to participate in public debate? That is the implication here. By the same standards a wealthy Australian or a chair or CEO of a big company would have to forgo the right to say anything about corporate or personal taxation. The idea is nuts.

Cate Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton have shown their public spiritedness by investing time and energy in the leadership of the Sydney Theatre Company in the last two years. They didn’t have to do it. They volunteered because of their attachment to this city and its artistic life and to Australia.

If you believe the quite overwhelming evidence of planetary degradation because of what the Economist magazine calls “mankind’s craziest experiment”…

…if you believe we are teetering on the point of a two degree rise in the earth’s temperature at which point serious damage cuts in…

…if you believe, like Bill McKibben, that human intervention has actually changed the rules by which the planet works, as he argued in his book Eaarth, actually creating a different planet…

…if you believe that only intervention by this generation in this window of opportunity can make a difference…

then you have an obligation to act.

By the way, the commitment of Cate Blanchett has been long term. This is not a Hollywood name suddenly discovering a fashionable issue. Indeed since 2009 supporting action on climate change has become distinctly hard and unfashionable.

  1. Cate Cahill permalink
    May 30, 2011 11:22 am

    Was shocked at the vitriol on Twitter re Cate Blanchett. Thanks for your succinct reply to that nonsense. I’m amazed at such incredibly selfish judgements by folks who probably are inactive on the subject of climate change

    • June 1, 2011 10:30 pm

      Spot on, Mr Carr. I said something vague similar to the Australian and the Daily Telegraph at last

      Sunday’s Press Conference which – surprisingly! – did not appear.

    • christine swan permalink
      June 2, 2011 8:54 am

      Perhaps folks are frustrated that Cate Blanchett gets to “vote Yes”, while they get to vote………when?

  2. Watson permalink
    May 30, 2011 11:51 am

    By the same logic, wealthy Australians should not be allowed to oppose the carbon tax. Those wealthy Australians include people like Twiggy Forest, Gina Reinhardt, and Clive Palmer, who have real vested interests in promoting a negative view. Nobody has proposed that they be shamed into silence for their insensitivity to the environment and our grand children’s future.

    The tactics of the opponents of AGW theory and action to mitigate CO2 pollution speak volumes of the moral turpitude of their spokespeople. The people must be alerted to this monstrous confidence trick before it is too late. Too late for everyone except the fossil fools who completely understand that Carbon Capture and Storage will never be effective or economic. They realize that if they don’t make their profits in the short term they will be progressively shut down within the next 10 years. So their only option is to make CO2 while the confusion and misinformation delay action, and logically to do all in their power to exacerbate that confusion.

  3. May 30, 2011 12:23 pm

    Love your work Bob!

  4. Raging Bull permalink
    May 30, 2011 12:30 pm

    Bob, with respect I don’t think the criticism of Cate Blanchett is related to her personal commitment to the debate or indeed the evidence about planetary degradation. It is about whether the Government be engaging a Hollywood star and spending $53 million to sell a message to the wrong audience.

    You only have to look at the take-up rate in recent years of rainwater tanks, gas and solar hot water systems, water-efficient washing machines and solar roof panels to see that the average punter already gets it. They know that reduced power and water use = reduced water and power bills (before reliability and green power subsidy add-ons) = reduced carbon emissions. They shouldn’t be patronised by Cate Blanchett or anyone else lecturing them to ” finally do something about climate change.” They are already doing their bit. Cate should be saying, “Australian households – you are already playing your part. Now it is time business is encouraged to invest in carbon reduction measures, and that is where a phased-in price on carbon comes in, just like the price incentives that saw our oil companies convert from leaded to unleaded petrol three decades ago.”

    We all know that government these days can’t act without populist approval and that is why the campaign is being run, but the pitch here is the offensive element, not the presence of Cate Blanchett.

    • Ariaflame permalink
      May 30, 2011 2:16 pm

      Given that this campaign was not government funded I don’t know where you are getting your numbers from.

      • Raging Bull permalink
        May 30, 2011 3:26 pm

        Whatever the actual figure is, any campaign that is funded by “environment groups” is Government funded. The only way that environment groups can exist is through government administration funding to pay the salaries of appointed and elected reps, who ironically spend most of their time campaigning against government. You will find those details buried in the annual reports of State and Federal Environmental Grants programs.

    • Nick permalink
      May 30, 2011 3:00 pm

      Wow, Raging Bull really sums up how the vitriolic piece yesterday, backed up by the shock jocks today, is successful.
      When what you take away from the debate is that it’s from the government and that it’s costing $53 million.
      Wrong on both accounts.
      There is no government funding of the campaign, it’s costing $1 million (again, not from the government) but Cate Blanchett is worth (according to the article $53 million).
      But you see how that works?
      We’re not debating climate change, or the tax, or policy, we’re discussing imagery and confected outrage.

      Thanks Raging Bull for proving why playing the person, not the ball, is such a succesful tactic.

    • May 30, 2011 3:14 pm

      Excuse me Raging Bull, it is NOT the government who has engaged Cate Blanchett, or Michael Caton, or the several other ordinary Australians who feature in the ad. The ad is made by the SAY YES campaign, an alliance of many organisations ranging from the WWF to the ACTU, the ACF, and Climate Action Network Australia, itself a federation of hundreds of grass-roots local community organisations.
      And to patronise Cate Blanchett as a “Hollywood Star” is disingenuous to say the least. Cate is also co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company, a concerned mother, and one of the most loyal and conscientious members of the Australian film & theatre industry you could hope to find.
      The ad hominem criticism of this advert exposes the bankruptcy (both factual and moral) of the no tax brigade. They have no real arguments against the tax, and no real support from anyone who understands the issues.
      What is offensive is the insistence by the no tax brigade – the shock jocks (not without wealth themselves, some of them), and, to his shame, the leader of the opposition, that there is no popular support for this tax. There IS. But falsity and innuendo will fill the space unless the YES vote speaks out. Fortunately, there are many prominent Australians. (Cate Blanchett among them, as well as Bob Carr) who are, at last, doing just that.

      • christine swan permalink
        June 2, 2011 8:52 am

        Notice “YES vote” in your comment. We are to vote on this? When?

  5. May 30, 2011 2:59 pm

    “It is about whether the Government be engaging a Hollywood star and spending $53 million”.

    My understanding is that the ads that Cate Blanchett is appearing are not paid by the Government but by Conservation groups and Unions.

  6. Randroid permalink
    May 30, 2011 4:17 pm

    I don’t intend to change my opinion based on Blanchett’s ad – she is not an expert afaik – but she has every right to express her view.

  7. Raging Bull permalink
    May 30, 2011 4:36 pm

    People, calm down and step back into the real world for just a moment.

    Whether you are aware or not, the Government funds environment groups – WWF, ACF, etc – that is how they keep operating. You don’t seriously think that these conservation groups would be running a campaign in support of a government policy that is yet to be finalised, that does not even have a price p/t set as yet, unless the Government tipped in the cash? Do you?? How you would feel if your WWF annual membership fee had gone towards funding an ad for a policy that is only half-cooked? You would be outraged enough to chain yourself to Tony Abbott, as unpalatable as that may be.

    My point is that this ad is aimed at the wrong target audience. Most fair-minded people, and I count myself among them, accept that a price signal on carbon needs to phased in so that heavy polluting industries are compelled to invest in cleaner technology or suffer financial pain. And that needs to be done in a manner that is sensitive to the feed-through costs to consumers, not all of whom will benefit from the yet-to-tested compensation.

    So who does the Government need to consult with and convince of the merits of this proposal. The Independents? Yes. The Greens? Yes. Heavy polluters and industry groups? If they were clever they would compromise and bring them with them, those that aren’t already there. But don’t try to garner populist support for a proposal that doesn’t need it by recruiting high-profile celebrities, regardless of their earnestness, for the sole purpose of bashing Tony Abbott over the head with it. You can dress it up however you like, but that is all this ad is about.

    The sad fact is that the real story out of the weekend should have been this quote from Christine Milne: “Everybody will have to compromise before we get to an agreement, and I think that’s well understood around the table from all sides.” So just when the Government starts acting like a Government and embraces consultation ahead of polling, a significant triumph is swamped by a tidal wave of controversy of its own making.

    • May 30, 2011 5:42 pm

      Raging Bull, whoever you are: the meaning of your first post was quite clear, so there’s no point in trying to re-interpret it now you’ve been caught out. (and by the way, you got the $53m wrong

      There was no need to “recruit” Cate Blanchett for this ad: as far as I know she’s pretty heavily identified with the Climate Change cause already. As a person, not because of her occupation. Just as several other people were in the ad. People whose names we don’t know, unless you look at the credit card at the end. They are ordinary people. Would the ad have been noticed if it had just been them. Sadly, no, and the outburst of hysteria we’ve seen today has proved just that. Even Michael Caton has been overlooked. What’s wrong with him? Not a tall enough poppy?

      What is most depressing is that the actual issue has, yet again, been swamped by the personal vitriol and populist gossiping.

      So I say: YES, bring on a steep carbon tax. Bring it on NOW. I don’t know all the details yet, and it may not be one hundred per cent to my liking. It will almost certainly hurt my pocket in the short term, in the interests of a long term solution to a pressing problem. And I am fed up with do-nothing negativity. Now that we know the science, I think the alternative, of yet more dilly-dallying around and allowing polluting companies to continue to screw up the atmosphere, is infinitely worse.

      • Raging Bull permalink
        May 30, 2011 6:30 pm

        Ahhhh, Dominic! These are my final observations (for now):

        1) My position has been been entirely consistent – this ad targets the wrong audience. It did not need to be run and it did not need Cate Blanchett or Uncle Harry. Please re-read my posts, you will enjoy them.

        2) We don’t need more debate about the ‘issue’ – it is time for the Government to act (see, we agree!). Bring all parties into the room, share the plan, hammer out the kinks, line up your stakeholder groups to hang out the shingle, introduce legislation.

        3) You can’t just ‘bring on a steep tax’ without punishing average income earners and sending employees to the wall. Even Christine Milne seems to get that now. That proposal would mean certain defeat in the House – fresh election – welcome to the Lodge Mr Abbott – 4 year reprieve for polluters. Responsible policies need a responsible phased-in approach.

        4) Who am I? I am the angry voice of reason.

  8. May 30, 2011 6:34 pm

    How dare they criticise our Cate! She’s beautiful and famous (even in America) so she must be right (and she certainly deserves protection from criticisms made by ugly nobodies).

    Where do I sign up?

  9. May 30, 2011 8:25 pm

    The campaign against Cate has exposed deniers for what they really are – bitter, desperate and not very bright. As Caton so rightly pointed out, if rich people aren’t allowed an opinion about their community, why should Turnbull be allowed to go into politics? I am enjoying watching the reaction to the Carbon Tax ad and I feel my monthly donation to Greenpeace is being very well spent.

  10. May 30, 2011 8:56 pm


    You seem to have forgotten that Michael Caton was one of those most opposed to the Bondi rail link – how does he square his opposition to public transport (that might bring the unwashed westie public to his front door) with his advocacy for lower CO2 emissions?

    Of course celebrities had to be used for these ads – you won’t find many people on an average wage or less (ie, traditional Labor voters) who’d think that this tax was such a good idea that they’d promote it on TV. Only the very rich, who can afford useless feel-good gestures, are able to support it.

    As for Cate – how much have her ventures (such as the STC) soaked up in taxpayer subsidies over the last decade? Please don’t give me this guff about how attached she is to this city – all she’s attached to is the feeding trough of arts funding.

    I did like Dick’s comments about how Murdoch should come back and tell his employees what to write – you were a journo once, Bob. How would you have reacted if the owner had instructed you to slant your coverage in a certain way?

  11. -Redsands- permalink
    May 31, 2011 4:45 pm

    This has nothing to do with their success, it has to do with the fact that they would readily condemn the average working class Aussie to lose his job and probably home because of this punitive Carbon tax, all the while feeling nothing since they are clearly rich enough and secure enough for the impact of a carbon tax to have no effect on them.
    These people don’t give a flying f*** about the average hard working Aussie and that shows in by these smug tossers lecturing us about what we should take from this lying “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” government.
    I am sure you will feel nothing on that big fat taxpayer funded superannuation and hence can sit there with your smug opinion. Then again you don’t give a rats about your fellow hard working Aussie do you!

  12. Boy on a bike permalink
    June 1, 2011 8:35 am


    Have the years dulled your memory, or did your staffers never bother to show you the letters that arrived as a result of this campaign? I remember it well, because I was living in Bondi Junction at the time and was hoping to move to Bondi after the rail line went in. Only a loon would live at Bondi and work in the city – the short bus ride up the hill (in a bus without air conditioning) could easily take an hour back then. No thanks.

    “Bondi residents turned out in force at Bondi Beach on Sunday 26/4/98 to protest against the proposed CityRail extension from Bondi Junction to the beach.

    The crowd, estimated at about 2000 people, was led by singer Kate Ceberano and actor Michael Caton.

    Since the environmental impact statement for the proposed link started, hundreds of locals have been out to stop it, including a group called “Save Bondi Beach”.

    Write a letter of protest to the Premier:
    The Honourable R J Carr MP
    GPO Box 5341
    Sydney NSW 2001″

    The hilarious thing about this is that soon after the rail line was scrapped (how much did that failed public transport project cost us?), this same bunch of NIMBYs:

    “….started protesting about parking meters, lack of parking spaces and too much traffic”

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