I want to be able to look my children in the face
in The Sydney Morning Herald
A stormy parliamentary session followed prominent carbon tax endorsements by former Liberal leader John Hewson and actress Cate Blanchett.
CATE BLANCHETT has dismissed attacks by Tony Abbott and other opponents of a carbon price, saying she will continue to do all she can to tackle climate change.
Speaking exclusively to the Herald yesterday, the Oscar-winning actress said she had expected the venom directed at her for appearing in a commercial that urged people to ''say yes'' to a price on carbon.
''I'm not really surprised by the reactions from people on the other side of the debate. People are entitled to their opinion,'' she said.
Cate Blanchett ... ‘‘There is a societal cost of increased pollution and that's what I'm passionate about as a mother.’'
Equally, 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.''
Blanchett, a mother of three, and the actor Michael Caton appear in the commercials sponsored by a collective of third-party groups, including the ACTU, GetUp and the Australian Conservation Foundation. She was not paid.
Sections of the media as well as the opposition have criticised Blanchett for being a rich person advocating a tax that would increase the cost of living for ''everyday Australians''.
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.
''Yes, I've been fortunate in my career but that's no reason not to stand up for something that I deeply believe in.''
She said if the furore surrounding her advocacy focused debate back on climate change, that was good. ''The campaign's not about me. It's about getting it refocused on the issue.''
Blanchett has been associated with the Conservation Foundation for several years. After the former US vice-president Al Gore began championing action about five years ago, Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton, joined the Climate Project, in which they learnt about climate change and became community advocates.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, did not overplay Blanchett's involvement, saying she was as entitled as anybody else to have her voice heard on the issue.
Mr Abbott dismissed her as a celebrity who was out of touch. ''You do not give special weight to celebrities,'' he said. ''You do not give special weight to people who live half the year in Hollywood where there is no carbon tax.''
The Greens MP Adam Bandt said Blanchett was just as entitled to campaign for a carbon price as Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, was entitled to campaign against the mining tax.
''Where was [Mr Abbott] when the richest person in Australia, Gina Rinehart came out and spent tens of millions of dollars of their own money on advertisements to kill a very fair mining tax proposal?'' he said.
Blanchett said Australia would be economically vulnerable if it remained a high carbon economy while its trading partners moved towards priced carbon. ''Australia is a remarkable country with incredible technical and physical resources and a capacity to be a world leader in renewables.''