The great 'Cate Debate'

Actress Cate Blanchett appears in a television ad to support a proposed carbon tax Cate Blanchett has been criticised for appearing in a carbon tax TV advertisement

Related Stories

Raging since first thing Sunday morning, I dare say many of you will have already taken sides in the great Cate Debate.

For the uninitiated, Cate Blanchett, Australia's most luminous actress, has made a brief appearance in a television advertisement urging her compatriots to "Say Yes" to a carbon tax.

The response from opponents of the government's controversial proposal, who claim the tax will damage the Australian economy and hit ordinary Australians with increased bills, has been vituperative.

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce says the multi-millionaire star should stick to acting because she has no idea what it is like for working families struggling with rising costs.

Sydney's Sunday Telegraph backed up its banner front-page headline - $53m Hollywood superstar tells Aussie families to pay up - with a stinging editorial: "Cate Blanchett has proved she is just another morally vain Hollywood star trying to justify her great good fortune by preaching to the rest of us about climate change."

Tale of two actors

Ostensibly, this debate is about the environment and the economy but is also about the role of elites in Australian national life.

It has shades of the David Hicks row last week, where the "elites" were pitted against the "battlers". Indeed, as the culture wars flare again, the opposing sides have taken up their usual positions, like medieval armies in observance of ancient rites.

For non-Australians, it is important to understand the toxicity of word "elite". It operates in much the same way that the L-word "liberal" works in American politics. Thus, that five-letter word is loaded with extra meaning, and implies a progressive outlook in politics, a condescending view of battlers, a commitment to multi-culturalism, and, normally, a sense of unease about the more ignoble aspects of the country's history, including the treatment of the first Australians.

One of the central reasons that the Yes campaign in the Republican debate failed was because ditching the monarchy came to be seen as an "elite issue". Malcolm Turnbull, who was the head of that movement, struggled as leader of the Liberals because he was viewed as an elitist at a time when the Liberals have become a party of battler sensibilities.

Some have even argued that Cate Blanchett has damaged her own cause by backing it so publicly.

"One of the risks of any green campaign is that it appears like lefty, progressive, idealistic and elitist, detached from the struggles of everyday people," notes the advertising executive Adam Ferrier in The Australian.

But another actor, Michael Caton, appeared with Blanchett in the advertisement and has not received the same criticism. He is known to Australians as the star of the great battler movie, The Castle. That, apparently, has given him immunity in this debate. So, too, the role he plays in the popular drama series, Packed to the Rafters, where he burnishes his "ordinary Australian" credentials. Thus, he is harder to take on.

Without The Castle to protect her, Cate Blanchett is far more exposed when it comes to Australia's ongoing cultural wars.

Nick Bryant Article written by Nick Bryant Nick Bryant New York correspondent

Brian Williams and the decline of the US news anchor

Brian Williams' "mistake" has hurt the longtime presenter's credibility, but nightly news anchors on the big three American networks no longer command the audience they used to.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Emps, you have to get that information to the climate scientists, immediately!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    This is the measure of Australia's contribution to climate change.
    1. Nature emmits roughly 600Billion tns of carbon into the atmosphere.
    2. man made " " 26 "
    3.CFC's emit 10,000 times more than Carbon (atom for atom).
    4. Of the man made 26 Billion tns emmited,
    USA 26%
    East Europe 26%
    0eCD 22%
    Rest of the world 26%
    What is OZ's fraction of the ROTW? prob around 2%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The effect of the carbon tax,probably unlike other taxes/levies,will be to increase the cost of EVERYTHING. Think of anything we use and the price will go up.

    It is naive to assume anyone could be better off with this imposition, except this govt. There is absolutely no practical reason for it,and yes i have heard all the "expert" arguments in favour. But look at the facts i present following.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Whether or not you support the carbon tax, it is simplistic to claim that it will adversely impact low-income families. The other side of the coin is that the carbon tax may be used to either (a) reduce other forms of taxation or (b) increase social spending. Low income families could actually end up better off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    continued from 26.
    The carbon tax along with the mining tax is about achieving the political
    objective:a surplus,to help reinforce the govt's chances at the next election. Pricing of carbon emissions in this country is ridiculous. All the cries in favour are by political or other vested interests,and poeple who love to hear their own voices.

    To be continued.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The primary purpose of this tax is to encourage large polluters,example:coal fired power generators to use less coal (what else)? Is that really going to happen? Will they convert to gas? No.
    They will still produce unavoidable carbon emissions at the same level,there's no other practical solution. So what's the tax all about?

    To be continued..

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Carbon Tax is a nonsense, Tax the polluters at source for all the dirty energies this esoteric Carbon Tax and Trading Scam is about creating a revenue stream to support a broken financial system.
    Some old figures about the Iraq Wars Carbon Footprint.
    Oh and the Science off beam as well. Dirty Water is by far and away more harmful than CO2, Tax Corporations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Kelly, it wouldn't be the tax that would threaten the smelter, but the company's unwillingness to reduce profit levels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Cate thinks this is a good idea as it is expected to reduce our carbon footprint. I'd like her to explain how this tax is going to reduce her footprint. Will she move out of her mansion with all the mod-cons. Will she stop jet-setting around the world. I say she won't change her behaviour and all the sacrifices will fall to the great unwashed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.


    You have perfectly summed up this great 'Cate debate'.

    You must be an Aussie.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    She's an actress, not an activist - she can choose to be in a poor commercial (politically not environmentally motivated) as well as a poor movie, would advise her to exercise more care on the latter or else she might turn up in "
    Weekend at Bernies III"

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    On one hand we have Australia struggling with a debate on a $10 carbon tax when its economy is booming compared. On the other you have Germany looking to go to 35% renewables by 2025, even as its economy struggles.
    I'd guess this is why Germany has such a strong manufacturing base, whilst Australia's is in decline.
    One looks to the future the other to the past and the now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Cate is entitled to her opinion and is free to express it anyway she likes. I disagree with her. I live in a small town with an Aluminium smelter. The high AU$ along with a carbon tax will put that smelters future in question and along with that the jobs of smelter employees, contractors and local businesses. So many of my friends jobs are connected with the smelter. Carbon tax will kill the town!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    This is a cost of living issue, eh, Barnaby Joyce?

    As one who doesn't consider Global Warming either proved or disproved, I don't automatically agree with her take, but I think you'll find, senator, her concern is not with the cost of living but the cost TO the living.

    In other words, the cost to her career is superseded by heartfelt concern.

    Your take seems concerned with political expedience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Good on you Cate...don't let the Dirty Digger get you down.
    Anyone with half a brain will support what the Governement is doing by pricing carbon.
    Only problem as I see it is the TV commercial is way too simplistic.
    Probably aimed at children.
    Perhaps that's why the negative backlash is so puerile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    This issue has been beaten into a frenzy in Oz thanks to the Murdoch press, the shock jocks, the leader of the opposition-to-everything Tony Abbott, the lunatic right fringe & mega wealthy mining magnates.

    The media & journalists with a mere few exceptions, are pathetic, even those not on News Ltd's payroll.

    Cate is a wonderful person & Australian to have done this advertisement.
    Thank you Cate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I LOVE CATE, but until the government presents a comprehensive Carbon Tax and stops the verbal abuse of any one presenting an alternative view, the tax must be scrutinised to the nth degree! What is the matter with that? How much money will be spent on the bureaucracy to shield low income earners from it, when transport costs will be added into our food any way. Big country! Nobody agrees totally

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Apparently you can't have a say in this country if you're rich; unless you're a mining magnate shouting from the back of a ute. What a beat up.

    I'm an unskilled blue-collar worker and I don't think this tax is elitist. It's bloody commonsense. Both sides of politics agreed to reduce our emissions by a whopping 5%. Just pick the mob that you reckon will do it better, and kick the other up the...

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    This debate is ridiculous... typical news limited I guess. The bizarre thing is that many news limited staff who write op-eds slamming the carbon tax every day will be too wealthy to feel it, the same as Cate. I'm looking forward to the next generation of Aussies that will hopefully be better educated & too smart to carry on with such a senseless debate! Is this elitist? Oh well, it's the truth

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Nick, would I be right in thinking that many of the Cate-bashers are not short of a bob or two? No prizes for supposedly championing the poor and needy from the back of a limo. There's never a shortage of people in favour of someone else paying for what needs to be done is there? The Flat Earth Society never went away, they just rebranded as The Climate Change Sceptics.


Page 1 of 2



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.