Oh wow, what a disaster was Sarah Ferguson’s 7.30 ABC session a week ago. She interviewed Cate Blanchett and director Warwick Thornton about their film The New Boy but switched the topic to the Referendum. Cate harangued the hoi polloi to vote Yes, inspiring a fearsome “No” backlash. In a panic, Yes organisers are now begging celebrities, with their Yes condescension and virtue-signalling, to zip it – the Yes case is in enough trouble already.
I love Cate as an actress – she should have taken home an Oscar for that me-too epic Tar. So I organised a party of 24 to her in-person film launch at the Nova multiplex in Carlton on July 1. Everyone jumped up and applauded wildly when she entered stage-right in white jacket, but after a few minutes she and Thornton dashed off to a question-and-answer session at St Kilda’s Astor. This caused grumbles from my party, especially when the film itself went into a load of mysticism bagging Christianity in favour of Aboriginal kids’ supposed magical powers, with added gobs of Stolen Generation agit-prop.
What’s going on with films about Aboriginal super-powered kids? We had one in Nicole Kidman’s Australia and another in In My Blood It Runs ,and now a hat-trick with The Lost Boy. Sheesh.
The movie starts in 1940 and is based on director Warwick’s childhood in the boarding school at the Benedictine order’s New Norcia, 120km north of Perth. Far from being stolen by Protectors and/or evil missionaries, Warwick says his mother sent him to New Norcia to keep a skinny ‘ratbag’ off the mean streets of Alice Springs. As he told Ferguson, the mission school fed him well and “healed those sores”.[i]
The movie suggests that Cate, as a surrogate priest, is safeguarding the older lads from being conscripted. Cate explained to Ferguson
The monastery became an island of refuge for all of them against the malevolence of the outside world, and even though the film doesn’t directly articulate it, these boys have been taken off Country, they are stolen, they are going to be cannon fodder or slave labour on farms … and so my character [surrogate priest] becomes someone who wants to protect them, baptise them into the faith, protect them from the outside world.
This passage went un-noticed by the media, but Cate actually supposes that the recruitment to fight Hitler in North Africa and Tojo in the island campaigns involved malevolently grabbing lads for “cannon fodder”. This was the Communist Party of Australia’s line (ditto for a major Labor Party faction)[ii] until Hitler inconveniently invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Thereafter the CPA dropped the “cannon fodder” tag that Cate continues pushing in 2023. Cate also thinks that finding teenagers wartime jobs on farms involved “slave labour” – maybe Virginia Trioli’s better half, Russell Skelton at ABC-RMIT Fact Check, should check that one out.
The news.com.au website is normally pretty woke-left but its account of the 7.30 program was devastating. It was headlined, ‘Preaching’: Cate Blanchett lashed over voice to parliament pitch.’ Claiming that Cate and her UK and Australian mansions were worth $95 million (US dollars, apparently) the report continued
the official Yes campaign said its new messaging would focus on the stories of Indigenous people instead of high-profile endorsements … Yes 23 campaign director Dean Parkin declined to comment on specific media reports celebrities had been dumped from the official Yes campaign. But he said ‘referendums are about the Australian people.
The report quoted Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price: “Australians don’t need multi-millionaire celebrities living overseas telling them what to do or how to vote.” Nick Tabakoff in The Australian’s Media column on July 10 weighed in likewise, saying, “The Yes campaign’s call to eschew celebrity endorsements appears a wise one.” (P23).
It seems Sarah Ferguson let down Team Yes when she rather unwisely prompted Warwick and Cate to enter the Referendum debate.
“The Voice is obviously in the foreground, not the background now,” Ms Ferguson nudged. “Did you think about it while as you were filming?”
Warwick: No, you can read the Voice into this film but it was never written that way … We are in a country that feels like a spoiled single child who has only learnt to say No and one day needs to learn the word Yes also.
Cate: It’s a strange time, but an extraordinary time for an extraordinary country. It does make me sad there is a lot of fear being generated about a really positive moment for us as a nation [she lives much of the time abroad] and we have to remember that the primacy of Parliament is not under threat. It is just that Parliament is a place where the important issues of the day are debated and all points of view are listened to, and the government – Parliament – makes decisions and legislation. But there is a certain ‘voice’ that is never really, in a non-partisan way, in an eternal way, represented at that table and that is an indigenous voice, and it is time we evolved to include all Australians. [She hasn’t heard yet about the over-representation of Aboriginal MPs per capita]…It will be a sad moment if we miss this opportunity.
She continued about how in Australia women got the vote 120 years ago while doomsters were claiming “society is going to collapse and we don’t know what is going to happen if women get the vote”. Carried away with her analogy, she asked whether people could imagine an Australia “where women didn’t have the right to vote, where their voice was not heard? No we can’t! So I am hoping in 120 years’ time we look back at this moment saying, ‘Can you believe we almost missed this opportunity?’ It is a great moment for this wonderful country.” The next ABC sub-titles read
Sarah Ferguson: Cate Blanchett, Warwick Thornton, it’s a film of extraordinary loom mouse [sic] beauty. Thanks for talking to us.
Cate’s Yes urgings generated “a very loom mouse” pushback by 200 commenters under the online story. About 80 per cent of responders bagged Cate as a silvertail expatriate virtue-signaller (for example: “Been on public transport lately Cate?) and advised her to stick to acting. Cate’s supporters countered that she was perfectly entitled to express her views and her wealth was well-earned. As a service to Quadrant Online readers, I’ll extract some comments. I’m not saying every allegation is true, only that the Yes campaign leaders have noted this sort of groundswell and found it ominous.
Susan: Australia was built on the back of multicultural people, their blood, their sweat, their tears and their sacrifices and are entitled to their democratic rights as a result. Keep your opinions to yourself.
Graham: Kate still thinks she is playing Queen Elizabeth I. I don’t give a damn about what she thinks. She’s just a well paid actress. Stick to what she’s good at. Leave me alone.
Brad: Well that’s now a NO!! Thanks for helping my decision Cate.
Atticus Finch: Oh please, noble thespian, tell us what we should do, you are so wise!
You have to be kidding: Conveniently forgot to mention the first Yes campaign advert with Albo and some black celeb from the US [15-time NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal]. I was totally disengaged from that moment.
Rendo: Wait until Craig Foster and Magda Szubanski get into gear. Their holier-than-thou attitude will get the No vote home in a landslide.
Muppet Slayer: Gotta love the socialist elite. Preaching from the diocese of Giorgio Armani draped in designer gowns and millions of dollars of jewellery.
Paul: Don’t care if Batman himself says to vote Yes, nothing will change my No vote.
Tania: ‘I’ll vote Yes if the actor signs over her entire property portfolio to disadvantaged Aboriginal kids in Alice Springs.’ Love it!
Mike_S: Flies on private jets while going to “green” rallies. She’s like the rest of these “celebrities” voicing their useless opinions. Stay in your lane. [I haven’t found any evidence Cate uses private jets on her frequent flights. She’s often papped at airport public terminals].
Will: Where does Cate pay her taxes … With no skin in the game, she should take her pompous idiocy elsewhere.
Seymour Butts [probably a pseudonym]: I’m too busy working for peanuts to listen to people who hold squillions in properties and investments, but do nothing more than preach and attend rallies on how the rest of the population should fix other people’s problems
Main: For someone who can sell up at an instant and traipse off to some other foreign jurisdiction … she’s in no position to lecture the vast majority of Australians who are living from pay check to pay check … If she wants acknowledgement or praise may I suggest she call up [ex-PM Kevin] Rudd.
Garth Vayda: Whatever happened to Cate’s contribution to Kevin Dudd’s “People’s Forum”…..Oh that’s right, NOTHING.
Pete: So what if Cate Blanchett is a Hollywood actress who has made millions, she’s an Australian and has much right as any other Australian to have a say on the Voice referendum. The “tall poppy syndrome” losers in Australia can’t stand someone who is successful while they wallow in their nothingness.
BW: “Ha, actors telling us what to think. Almost as poor taste as them trying to convince us “we’re all in this together” when the government entrapped us all in our homes…. Good Times!
Blaze: How’s your carbon footprint? Saving the planet one mansion at a time.
To play fair one needs to Fact Check the commentators. First, is this “many mansions” stuff all rot or not? Well, architects call the Cate and partner Andrew Upton’s real estate portfolio “dazzling”. In England two decades ago she and Upton enjoyed a four-storey Georgian seafront home in Brighton UK, with a $A4000 marble bath (1990s dollars) they had to lift into the house with a crane.
After returning to Sydney in 2006 they paid $7 million for Bulwarra, an 1877 Gothic waterfront mansion on North Parade, Hunters Hill. They spent $5 million to acquire a neighbouring property and renovated the combined double lot. They sold the home in 2017 for a reported $18 million, on an agent’s spiel of “This house is beyond anything you could imagine.” Take a tour here.
They next downsized to a five-bedroom $5 million apartment in Sydney’s Astor building with Harbour, Opera House and Botanic Garden views, which they re-listed in 2020 for $8 million. They had also bought a luxury beach villa, “Matanara”, in Vanuatu, and a Berowra Creek five-bedroom home (boat-accessible only) overlooking the Hawkesbury (snoop on it here). They also acquired a waterfront apartment in Elizabeth Bay.
In England in 2016, they paid $4.5 million for Highwell, an East Sussex seven-bedroom and nine-bathroom house with five reception rooms and a 40-foot drawing room with crystal chandeliers. The house is on 13 acres, and was once owned by Sherlock Holmes’ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is their current family home.
Next Fact-Check: Is Cate careful about her CO2 emissions?
As one magazine put it, Blanchett is serious about the gravity of global climate change, saying, “Everyone is trying to be positive, talking about 1.5 degrees of global warming. But 1.5 would still be disastrous. We need to be f*****g scared … and demand change. Be collectively courageous enough to face that fear and do something about it.” Talking of gravity, Cate once credited artists with an ability to “change gravity” while personally risking death for the sake of their public:
The arts operate at the core of human identity and existence…We change people’s lives, at the risk of our own. We change countries, governments, history, gravity.
In the days of Kevin Rudd, she won the nickname “Climate Cate”. She took pride in not washing her hair and also bought a job-lot of 30 shower timers to save energy usage, saying, “I actually have little races with myself, thinking, ‘Oh no, I’m not washing my hair, I only need to have a two-minute shower.’ Her comments inspired Sydney’s Daily Telegraph to do a digitally-enhanced and unflattering picture of Cate after months of unwashed hair. This picture requires a trigger warning for teenaged girls.
She appeared in TV ads for unions and green groups in 2011 advocating for Labor’s carbon tax. She also took part in the “Say Yes to a Price on Carbon” campaign, organised by 140 big names and community groups.
In May 2020, Cate, along with scores of Hollywood A-listers such as Jane Fonda , Penelope Cruz and Madonna, signed a petition against excessive consumerism. They demanded that governments fiercely crack downs on emissions, saying:
The ongoing ecological catastrophe is a meta-crisis: the massive extinction of life on Earth is no longer in doubt, and all indicators point to a direct existential threat … We therefore solemnly call upon leaders — and all of us as citizens – to leave behind the unsustainable logic that still prevails and to undertake a profound overhaul of our goals, values, and economies. The pursuit of consumerism[iii] and an obsession with productivity have led us to deny the value of life itself … Pollution, climate change, and the destruction of our remaining natural zones has brought the world to a breaking point. For these reasons, along with increasing social inequalities, we believe it is unthinkable to ‘go back to normal.’
My fact-checking has not diminished my admiration for Cate the actress one bit. I really hope she’ll keep urging us all to vote Yes and, planet-wise, that she’ll continue setting an example re the frugal use of shampoo.
Tony Thomas’s new book from Connor Court is Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. For a copy ($35 including postage), email email@example.com
[i] Not that New Norcia was all sweetness and light. I can personally attest that in 1968 or 1969, when an artist Ted Pagram and I were gathering material on Aboriginal living conditions in the south-west, we met on the road near New Norcia two Aboriginal teenage girls with shaven heads. They told us that head-shaving was punishment for running away from the mission. I knocked on the front entrance to check that claim with the Mother Superior but a nun who answered told me she was absent. The book was nevert finished.
[ii] See Aarons, Eric, What’s Left, Memoirs of an Australian Communist, Penguin p41: “We accepted the line of the Communist International, that the war was now one between imperialist powers.” Opposition leader John Curtin in 1939-40 opposed overseas service. (National Museum of Australia).