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Oscar winner ads to deeper division

06-03-2011 11:55 BJT

SYDNEY, June 3 (Xinhua) -- The Oscar-winning Hollywood star Cate Blanchett has come unstuck with her fellow Australians after fronting a television commercial supporting a controversial new tax scheme in her native country.

Cate Blanchett (File Photo)

While the federal government welcomed the ads which were funded by green groups and unions and support the inclusion of a tax on carbon polluters, many Australians were left seething.

The star of Elizabeth and the Lord of the Rings trilogy makes a star turn in the "Say Yes" advertising campaign urging voters Down Under to back the government's planned carbon tax, which would be levied on companies which contribute to pollution.

The Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called for an election to resolve the carbon tax crisis these days. Speaking to the ABC, Mr Abbott accused the Gillard government of "being star struck".

The millionairess and current co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company is roundly adored by Australians, however, her brilliant star may lose some of its lustre after pitching herself headlong into a debate that is dividing the nation.

Many Australians, urged on by a national-Liberal coalition, fear the carbon tax will destroy jobs, repel investment and most importantly be passed along to families already struggling in the tough economic climate.

The campaign fell directly into the lap of outspoken National Party Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce, who fiercely opposes the tax. Joyce criticised Blanchett for failing to understand the impact it will have on hard-up Australians.

He told national radio, "It's very easy for people who have a good wage to suggest that we engage in a gesture which will have no effect, but the people who really pay the price are the ones who can't afford the fundamentals of life right now.

"I think that Cate Blanchett is a marvellous actor, a beautiful person and a wonderful Australian, but the relationship between that and a person who is, unfortunately, already doing it tough in their life, who's under the pump already because they can't afford their power bill... what do they get from the ad?"

Not much, according to callers on talk-back radio Friday, where fermenting anger at the possibility of ordinary Australians having to pay-up for the environmental conscience of wealthy leftwing artists and politicians spilled over.

A number of 140 leading Australians and organizations have also put their names to a statement given to the Federal government Friday morning, urging it to speed up legislation for the finalization of a price on carbon.

Businessman like Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith supported the ad campaign and the pricing of carbon. He said he was asked to be part of the campaign, but surprisingly said no.

Smith said, "I didn't appear on it because I knew that I would be a front page of lies in the Rupert Murdoch press here. So there was no way I was going to destroy my name that way. I was gutless. I didn't stand up for the truth."

But the truth is a mercurial thing when it comes to the cloak and dagger of the Australian climate debate.

On one hand, a Climate Commission report released last month confirmed again - with scientific evidence - that climate change is real. The report showed, among other facts, that in the last 50 years the number of record hot days in Australia has more than doubled. Australia's natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef are already being damaged, and the risk of coastal flooding could double by the end of the century.

Yet so certain is Abbott that ordinary Australians remain climate skeptics that he repeated his call for the government to hold an election and allow the Australian people to decide the issue.

"Listen to the Australian people and give them a chance to say yes," he told parliament.

Abbott saved his cruelest jibes for Gillard, by again referring to the Cate Blanchett ad, at the same time ensuring the divisions through Australia will only deepen in the coming months.

"She should stop thinking that somehow a handful of celebrities represents the voice of the Australian people," he said.


Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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