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Cate Blanchett and carbon tax plunder

  • 31 May 2011

Cate Blanchett cannot help but appear polished on screen. Having conquered Hollywood with Oscar winning performances, she has now moved into the field of environmental activism; currently, by advocating for a carbon tax for Australian consumers, in advertisements produced by a coalition of unions and greens urging citizens to 'Say Yes'. The tax man, it seems, has gone green.

The attacks on Blanchett's actions have followed a distinct pattern, all conforming to one theme: She is 'out of touch'. Take the words of the conservative Australian Family Association. 'It's nice to have a multi-millionaire who won't be impacted by it telling you how great [the carbon tax] is. It's easy for her to advocate it, she's one of the few who can afford to pay it.'

The Sydney Sunday Telegraph got personal: '$53 million Hollywood superstar tells Aussie families to pay up', it declared; yet another 'morally vain Hollywood star' had turned preacher in a 'climate change' cause. The Australian newspaper, never a friend of the progressive cause, has released polls showing that 60 per cent of voters were opposed to a carbon tax.

The actor turned activist is a curious sight. Since the actor specialises in dissimulation, image making, an imitation of life rather than life itself, credentials might be regarded as sketchy. Many members of the public go to the cinemas to avoid reality rather than embrace it. The idea that an actor might do the reverse creates a sense of distrust.

That said, modern politics is less the art of reality than the art of packaging. It is hard to imagine how a modern politician might not be actor. Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of a state that made politics and cinema synonymous. Ronald Reagan inundated the White House with fantasy, astrology and movie motifs. A global trend evacuating the field of politics with the creativity of the stage has been taking place for some time.

The progressive side of politics has also succumbed to that idea.

Ostensibly, the tax is designed to target polluters, with Australia being a leader in those stakes. There is, however, a troublesome reality. Instead of readjusting the country's over-reliance on the resource sector, the government is simply finding another avenue for raising revenue. Money spinning, rather than environmental saving, is what the Gillard Government has in mind.

People might debate how effective a carbon tax might be, but the insistence by Blanchett and others that it will