UPDATED: Cate Blanchett isn’t allowed to have an opinion. Because she’s rich.

UPDATE: Cate Blanchett has spoken out after being criticised by some, including opposition leader Tony Abbott for appearing in an ad about climate change:

Fairfax reports today:


Blanchett said she was undeterred. ”Everyone will benefit if we protect the environment. There is a societal cost of increased pollution and that’s what I’m passionate about as a mother. That’s where it gets me in the gut,” she said. ”I can’t look my children in the face if I’m not trying to do something in my small way and to urge other people.”

But Blanchett said her support for a price of carbon was conditional on there being ”generous assistance” for low- and middle-income households, which the government has promised.

”I understand that if you use the word tax, people are rightly and understandably concerned about their standards of living,” she said. ”My support for a price on pollution is based on the fact that low- and middle-income earners will be compensated.” She rejected the suggestion that because she was a wealthy actress, she was not entitled to speak out.


This isn’t a post about the carbon tax. It’s not a post about climate change. Or the environment. Or El Nino. Or La Nina. Or the fact that I once broke up with a guy because – among other things – he left the tap running while he brushed his teeth.

This is a post about Cate Blanchett and the fact that last night she appeared in a television commercial supporting something she believes in: Australians paying a carbon tax.

And apparently Cate Blanchett has no right to loan her support to that cause. Because she’s rich. And … Nope, I think that’s about it. Cate Blanchett is rich. Therefore she should shut up.

According to the Sunday Herald Sun:

“Nine organisations, including Greenpeace, WWF and the Climate Change Institute, have launched the advertisements with Blanchett and fellow Australian actor (Michael) Caton calling for the public to “say yes” to cutting carbon pollution.

But Blanchett’s involvement has drawn criticism from some political groups. They say the actress, who is worth $53 million, has shown she is out of touch by spruiking the benefits of the tax that she can afford to pay, unlike many already hard-up Australians.

Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce also took the actor to task.

Speaking out on climate change in 2009, Cate has form on this issue.

“Fifty-three million dollars gives you a whole heap of latitude to care about a lot of things,” he said. “If you really care, how about you give some of your money to help people meet the increased costs they are about to face? I’m so proud of her as an Aussie actor … but this is an area that’s got nothing to do with acting. It’s got a lot to do with whether people can afford the fundamentals of life.”

But the truth is this debate isn’t really about whether or not you believe in paying a carbon tax.  Really, this is about whether you believe celebrities have the right to use their fame to spruik causes they believe in.

And I believe they do.

Scratch that.  I believe they must.

George Clooney wants you to know about the ongoing genocide happening in the Darfur region of Sudan.   Ellen DeGeneres’s website encourages fans to help stamp out bullying. And adopt animals from shelters. Leonardo DiCaprio openly campaigns for the World Wildlife Fund. Miranda Kerr is on a one-woman crusade to promote breastfeeding.  This week both Megan Gale and Jennifer Hawkins appear in Marie Claire magazine promoting Red Dress Day to raise awareness about heart disease in women. And Bono? Well, Bono wants us all to get off our arses and save the world.


Even on Twitter our local radio stars, newsreaders and newspaper columnists routinely retweet messages about fundraisers, charity runs and appeals on behalf of their followers.

So who are these celebs to be loaning their support to such causes? Who are they not to be?  Fame’s sidekick is a bloody big, unrelenting spotlight. With the trappings of fame comes a responsibility, I believe, to shine that light on causes you believe in.  And while anonymous donations and clandestine charity work are noble – public giving, supporting, encouraging can – literally – save lives. Make a difference.  Raise awareness.

And frankly, I’d rather see Clooney pimping his fame for Darfur than, say, Nespresso.

Should the celeb’s interest in the cause be genuine? Of course.  But even if Lindsay Lohan signed up to do a BBC documentary about child trafficking in India to, I don’t know, say, help her avoid time in the Big House it doesn’t matter.   A cause is given airtime. Money will be raised.  Even if just one child is saved or rehabilitated some good has come from it.

Oprah Winfrey once said, “What I have decided is that with fame, notoriety, credibility – if you can’t have the courage to stand up and speak out for what you truly believe in, then it means nothing.”

Amen to that. Please retweet.
For the record, here’s the ad:

Mia also spoke to Karl on The Today Show this morning about this ad, take a look