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Crossposted by Crikey’s environment blog, Rooted.

At the weekend, a coalition of environment groups and unions launched a television advertisement featuring the award-winning actress Cate Blanchett that urges the public to support the government’s carbon price policy.

It didn’t take long for conservative politicians and commentators to attack the messenger.

Conservative critics have attempted turn Cate Blanchett’s presence in the ad into a weakness for the ‘Say Yes’ campaign. Emphasising Blanchett’s personal wealth, conservative critics have sought to present the carbon price as just another elite cause—one that is out of touch with concerns and interests of ‘everyday Australians.’ This narrative will appeal to some, but as many people have noted on the twittersphere, it smacks of hypocrisy. Where were the conservative critiques when billionaire-mining magnates Gina Rhinehart, Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest used their personal wealth to sink the Rudd government’s proposal to tax the industry’s exorbitant profits?

Mark Textor, the political strategist and former pollster to PM John Howard, commented on the debate, tweeting: ‘One indication of #adfailure? When there’s more conversation about the tactics and execution of it rather than about its core subject matter.’ By this measure, there’s no doubt that opponents to the carbon price have blunted the pro-carbon price message by stirring up class resentment. The Say Yes advertisement might have avoided this by modeling the advertisement on those used in the successful ‘Your Rights at Work’ campaign. Several of these ads used, dare I say it, ‘everyday Australians’ to make the case for fair industrial relations laws.

Looking beyond the fuss over Blanchett, the Say Yes campaign reveals just how low the bar has been set on national climate policy.

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Leigh Ewbank


Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

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