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May 30th 2011 print

Bill Muehlenberg

Carbon Madness and Green Hypocrisy

It is always a bit rich when Hollywood celebs who happen to be multimillionaires start lecturing us plebs about how we need to tighten our belts for the good of the planet.

It is always a bit rich when Hollywood celebs who happen to be multimillionaires start lecturing us plebs about how we need to tighten our belts for the good of the planet. The new pro-carbon tax TV ads are a great case in point. Here we have Australian-born Hollywood bigwig Cate Blanchett telling struggling Aussies how good this new tax will be.

Of course any such tax will be no skin off her nose. Nor will it likely impact Michael Caton, the other Australian actor to appear in the ad. But it certainly will impact on average Australians who are already battling big time, with rising energy prices, food costs, fuel costs and so on.

They won’t have a Hollywood mansion to return to, nor luxury digs in Sydney. Indeed, it is reported that the Oscar winner’s wealth is around $53 million. She likely leaves more of a carbon footprint with her jet-setting lifestyle than does an entire suburb in Western Melbourne.

And given that she is an ambassador for luxury car brand Audi, do we really need her preaching at us about how we need to make more sacrifices for the environment? As Terri Kelleher of The Australian Family Association said, “It’s nice to have a multi-millionaire who won’t be impacted by it telling you how great it is. It’s easy for her to advocate it, she’s one of the people who can afford to pay it. There are people who have no comfort zone and no room to move.”

Or as National Party Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said, “$53 million gives you a whole heap of latitude to care about a lot of things. If you really care, how about you give some money to help people meet the increased costs they are about to face?

“I love your acting Cate, but stick to what you’re good at. Instead of sticking ‘I care’ bumper stickers on their Mercedes four-wheel drives, they should get out there and talk to people who are forced to eat No Frills [brand food] because they can’t afford anything else.”

Interestingly, four other “ordinary” Australians appeared in the ads – a tradesman, a mother and child, an elderly woman, and a businessman. But when the media contacted them and asked some hard questions, not one of them was willing to disclose their incomes. Why are we not surprised?

And even more galling is the fact that the TV ad is also a fake in terms of what it is depicting. In typical fashion it shows a factory belching out smoke. The problem is, this is not an Australian factory. Indeed, it does not even exist. Turns out, the “coal-fired power station shown in the new national carbon tax advertising campaign isn’t in Australia – it’s in South London and was closed in 1983.”

If nothing else, the various Green groups which chose Blanchett should really wise up about these matters. As one advertising expert writes, this whole thing is rather counterproductive. He says, “I ADORE Cate Blanchett. Who wouldn’t? She’s stunningly beautiful, seems like a lovely person, promotes the arts (including Australian theatre), has had an amazing international career as an actor, all while raising a family.

“Unfortunately, for all of these reasons she is completely the wrong person to be fronting a campaign to garner support for the carbon tax. To the typical Australian, the carbon tax debate has at its heart a big question – will a carbon tax compromise my way of life? Will I have to make compromises to my already difficult lifestyle to have a greener future?”

He concludes with these words: “Advertisers are often mistaken when they see celebrity endorsement as a panacea. However, when you have a campaign that demands behavioural change the stakes are much higher. It is not enough to interrupt a TV show using aspirational celebrities to spruik the message.

“More care and thought needs to go into an overall communication strategy aimed at changing people’s behaviour.

The key issue here is will a carbon tax compromise my way of life? People don’t know the answer to that question. But with all due respect to Blanchett and Caton, they do know that you wouldn’t know either.”

All in all we have here yet another example of Green lies and hypocrisy. Nothing new there of course; happens all the time. And according to the press, more celebs are about to join the Labor hard sell. Again, not surprising. The entertainment world is largely to the left on most issues, and we find the same here: supporting Labor mates, even if it means stretching the truth and engaging in more hypocrisy.