Asia-Pacific

Actress Cate Blanchett sparks Australia climate debate

Australian actress Cate Blanchett taking part in an advertising campaign supporting a carbon tax
Image caption Cate Blanchett features in a new TV advert urging Australians to "Say Yes" to a tax on carbon

The Australian actress Cate Blanchett has been criticised for appearing in a television advertisement calling for the introduction of a carbon tax.

One leading opposition politician said the Oscar-winning actress did not understand the cost-of-living concerns of ordinary Australians.

She has been a strong advocate of steps to reduce Australian emissions.

Senator Barnaby Joyce said she should stick to acting, but the government and the Greens have rallied behind her.

It has been dubbed "the Cate debate", and centres on the actress's support for the government's controversial new carbon tax, which is bitterly opposed by the conservative opposition.

She features briefly in a new television campaign urging Australians to "Say Yes" to a tax on carbon.

Opponents of the carbon tax say it will increase the cost of living for ordinary Australians.

Mr Joyce, of the National Party, said the multi-millionaire star had no idea what it was like for working families struggling with rising costs.

One right-wing tabloid called her a morally vain Hollywood star trying to justify her great good fortune by preaching to the rest of Australia about climate change.

She has been the driving force behind what has been called the greening of the Sydney Theatre Company, where she is an artistic director. Her mansion in Sydney is fitted with solar panels.

The attacks on Cate Blanchett also reveal an instinctive suspicion of people in Australia perceived to be part of a cultural or educational elite - especially by the populist right.

The movie star, who has been backed by the government and the Australian Greens, has not responded publicly to the criticism.

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