News Ltd.

May 30, 2011


More than once while writing about News Ltd for Pure Poison I have said to myself "That's potentially the stupidest thing ever to be printed by a newspaper". And every time I say it, I

More than once while writing about News Ltd for Pure Poison I have said to myself “That’s potentially the stupidest thing ever to be printed by a newspaper”. And every time I say it, I think that having hit bottom things can only improve. Once again the Daily Telegraph has shown me to be a misguided optimist.

‘Carbon Cate’ Blanchett tells Aussies to pay up over carbon charge

CATE Blanchett has sparked outrage in the community with her decision to front an ad campaign promoting the federal government’s controversial carbon tax.

So an ad that hasn’t even aired yet has sparked outrage? Perhaps in editorial suites at the Tele, the Hun and the Claytons’ Broadsheet, but in the community? How the hell are we supposed to be outraged about something that we haven’t even seen yet? Oh, that’s right, the Tele is being prescriptive on behalf of its “constituency” rather than actually reporting the facts. Apparently the outraged community consists of the soon to be irrelevant Family First, the numerically challenged Barnaby Joyce, and the always outraged Australian Families Association; what a shock.

Getting less of a mauling is actor Michael Caton, who also appears in the ads. Whether that’s because of his extremely high positive rating in the ‘Q Scores’ or just because it’s easier to pick on a woman who works in the arts as well as in mainstream entertainment is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the Tele is still grumpy that Blanchett went to the 2020 Summit at the invitation of Kevin Rudd?

Of course the Southbank Jester couldn’t resist the opportunity to stick the boot in:

A lesson in sacrifice for the planet from the woman in the luxury Audi

It’s not just the “let them eat cake” attitude but the hypocrisy that makes this a bad career move:

Hang on aren’t we all supposed to be good little aspirational Australians? I would have thought that a prestige car in the driveway would be mandatory in a prosperous Abbott led Australia, isn’t Cate just ahead of the curve? That said, Audi is owned by Volkswagen, and you know who liked Volkswagens, don’t you?* Apparently it’s not class war pointing out that rich people have it easier than the rest of us if the rich people in question aren’t following Coalition talking points.

Strangely enough, when a bunch of billionaires ran an advertising campaign to complain about potentially paying more tax the Tele weren’t so vigorous in their criticism. Perhaps once you join the billionaires’ club you get an honorary battler membership that’s unattainable for mere millionaires like Blanchett?

The News Ltd led unhinging does seem to be getting some traction though, with Logan City Councillor Hajnal Black going on the offensive:

Message to Kate Blanchette Australians won't set their moral compass to Hollywood actors. I am preparing a FOI to learn how much KB was paid

Of course, how an FOI request will ascertain whether or not a group of non-government organisations paid an actress is not actually explained. I guess that details aren’t all that important when you’ve decided to ignore science.

It seems that the message from News Ltd is clear, oppose Tony Abbott’s government in waiting and you’ll feel the full weight of the tabloid media trying to drag you down. Have we hit bottom yet?

* It was Hitler! He probably liked pricing Carbon emissions too.

Update: Unsurprisingly, the tabloid that’s too big to read on the train has jumped on the bandwagon too. The Australian has decided to list the details of Blanchett’s home and the cost of renovations she had done, but despite having more time than the Tele still hasn’t been able to find much outrage.

And how did I miss Miranda?

How can a jet-setting multi-millionaire who lives in an enormous $10 million pile in Hunters Hill, and is driven around in a chauffeured Prius, tell less privileged Australians to say yes to a tax that will send electricity bills skyrocketing?

She’s right of course, we should be listening to people who work at News Ltd, where everyone is a battler, lives in the outer suburbs and drives a 1983 Commodore or a ’78 Falcon.

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83 thoughts on “#Categate

  1. Bellistner

    Posted by RobJ

    She’s beautiful, intelligent, enlightened, talented, female, a perfect target for the idiots..

    You could have left it there. 🙂

  2. B.Tolputt

    I’m with jules here. I live near two power stations and couldn’t confirm from a picture (without signs or extraneous landmarks) if a power station photograph was taken locally, from elsewhere in Australia, or from overseas. The whole issue is a distraction and it’s working.

    I do understand Gavin’s point about a power station being local would be better. To be clear though, the sole reason it would have been better is because it would have headed off this whole petty diversion (wouldn’t have changed the class warfare attacks on Cate though). An advertisement is good or bad based on it getting the right reaction from the target audience and, as such, the choice of power station affects the advertisement negatively (purely due to today’s poisonous media environment).

    However, to even have the thought enter your head, you’d need to have the lowest of low opinions on current political discourse (check, I don’t think I can get a worse opinion of the MSM) and have the kind of mind that would think of the kind of attacks they could make based on such petty things (without 20/20 hindsight, I wouldn’t have seen it coming).
    — — —
    tl;dr: The station used is irrelevant as 90% of the population wouldn’t recognise it regardless. If you want to focus on petty sophistry rather than the real issues though, it works as a great diversion. I also don’t think any blame for this should fall on those putting the ad together… as to think of it as an issue in the first place, you need a twisted mind. Anyone thinking the choice is actually important is being petty and/or just trying to keep the diversion alive.

  3. Mano derecho

    “This is a stupid discussion, why are we having it?”

    Because we’ve been successfully distracted (some more than others, apparently) from discussing the substantial elements of the proposal by the dominant right wing media. It’s their job. And they’ve done it well. Now, can we please stop playing their games?

  4. jules

    “Rob hit the nail on the head — use Hazelwood, its an image that all Australians are familiar with and it is home based, much more relevant and more likely to sway people here who are not yet decided about saying yes to the scheme.”

    WTF??? All Australians? I wouldn’t know which power station was which and I’m pretty sure just about everyone I know is in the same boat.

    And I couldn’t care less. A power station is a bloody power station. FFS Its an ad with an animation in the background.

    This is a stupid discussion, why are we having it?

  5. Barry 09

    dave ? why did you pull my comment , when i gave you the paper, day and article title ????????????????????????????? Its to find just google hajnal Ban Court case ? Like i said ,i don’t know how to Link the story.

  6. GavinM

    I’m not sure how much water they recycle Rob, but I suspect they mustn’t refill the pondage too often — apparently there are tropical fish in it so I reckon the temperature would have to stay reasonably stable.

    This link is from the power company and talks a little about the amount of water used — I know, I know, we don’t believe everything they say but I guess it may be useful as a starter

  7. RobJ

    [And Sorry Rob]

    No need to apologise surly, I’m happy to be corrected.

    They recycle water, sure but they fill the pondage with potable water. I would have thought that they’d lose a lot to evaporation (maybe they don’t) and recycling the water they used to settle the dust may be a bit difficult. Fact of the matter is our govt has been too slack for too long, no drinking water should be used (IMO).

    I’d be interested what proportion of water they do recycle. Anyone?

  8. GavinM

    Hello Surly,

    I have no problem with the message they are conveying — I’ve already said I support the scheme — I only have a (minor) issue with their choice of imagery.

    I just reckon they should’ve used an Australian powerstation so people here who haven’t made up their minds will see it as a problem in Australia and, hopefully, will readily see the need to address it — I really don’t think I’m saying anything particularly controversial.

  9. surlysimon

    Hey GAvin
    I addmitted my mistake

    Now to the point, if making a point in advertising you use images that are recognisable and get the point across quickly, to argue they should have used an Australian powerstaion is simply admitting you can’t find fault with the substanse of the advert.

    Yes the stuff coming out of the big stacks at most powerstations is water vapour because the big chimneys are the cooling towers. The nasty stuff coming out of the boilers is generaly invisible, the days of dark coal smoke are long gone. Interestingly most of what people think of as “coal smoke” coming from old plants and even steam train engines is also water vapour, being exhust steam used to create an artifiacal blast for the fire.

    And Sorry Rob, Gavin is pretty much right, most stations use water taken from their own storage and recycled through the cooling towers (it is just used to cool water in the condensers which coolwater in the steam cycle which is a closed cycle these days so no water is added to make steam) and there is some loss (the steam clouds) but it’s minor. the only issue with the cooling water is that it is warmer than the water it is returned to and when that is a natural body of water you can get some enviromental issues. They may consume 1.3 Megalitres but I am sure much of that is returned to the pondage.

    Steam power staions are quite thermodynamicaly efficent these days but they still have to burn something to make steam and that means they emit some sort of nasty gasses into the atmosphere, regardless of wether we can see them.

  10. GavinM

    I hear you Rob — I’m not arguing the point, I can remember a school excursion to the station back in the 70’s where they showed us how the water was used and recycled back through the pondage.

    Obviously that water has to be kept topped up from time to time and everything I’ve read says it draws water from the reservoir and from run-off from the mines.

    I still say an image of Hazelwood would have been much more effective for the ad 😉

  11. RobJ

    Hey Gavin, whenever I want to find out about something, for example a tech product I’m interested in I read the reviews, outside of specifications I ignore what the manufacturer has to say, in this instance I’d ignore what the power company says.

  12. GavinM


    Its a closed powerstation, therefore it is not relevant to anything that is still operating 30 years after its closure.

    I’m also prepared to bet that when it was operating it didn’t have black smoke belching out of all 4 chimneys.

    Rob hit the nail on the head — use Hazelwood, its an image that all Australians are familiar with and it is home based, much more relevant and more likely to sway people here who are not yet decided about saying yes to the scheme.

    Its always great when people know they have nothing to back their arguments — the personal abuse starts, and in RUS’ case it usually starts after his first post…Speaks volumes really.

  13. GavinM

    Hi Rob,

    I looked at the power company’s site yesterday Rob — although I diodn’t read it too closely because I was trying to find out a bit about the pollution levels that the station emits, they said the water is recycled through their pondage.

    Mind you, I’m not going to try and tell you that they were necessarily being completely trtansparent with the facts, so your wiki extract is probably accurate enough.

  14. Holden Back

    As thick as a whale omlette?

  15. RobJ

    Gavin, Where are you getting the ‘recycled water’ from?

    According to Wiki (which might be wrong):

    “1.31 megalitres of water was consumed per gigawatt hour of power generated in 2005.[15] Cooling water for the power station is supplied by the Hazelwood Pondage, built for this purpose in the 1960s. The pondage is supplied with water from the Moondarra Reservoir and runoff pumped from the adjacent mine. At the mine, water is sprayed onto the coal to reduce the chance of fire and to suppress dust.[15]”

  16. Eric Sykes

    “how thick are you to think that a closed down foreign powerstation is relevant to a campaign aimed at Australians ?..”

    It’s a power station, it’s one of the most famous power stations in the world, it has become a generic image of a “power station”. As a generic image it is not simply relevant to Australians, it is relevant the world over (because it is now a generic image..durrrr.)

    Refusing to recognise this obvious fact is simply trolling of the worst wingnut kind. Don’t feed it.

  17. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    As much as it angers you Gavin, these ads have every right to exist and an illustration graphic is not evidence of anything except your own prejudice against reality and inability to think for yourself.

    If they had used Hazelwood you would be here arguing “Not all powerstations are as bad as Hazelwood OMG MISLEADING DECEPTION” because that is the argument Bolt would have used and you simply regurgitate what he tells you to think right on cue.

    The only thing that would shut you up is the ad not existing, and that it’s gotten under your skin and you aren’t able to find a single legitimate criticism of it says everything – and I note you’ve moved from “they might have a point” to obsessively arguing that they were wrong to use this image.

  18. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    So very thick.

  19. GavinM

    “I repeat – how thick are you to think this is a genuine criticism?”

    I repeat — how thick are you to think that a closed down foreign powerstation is relevant to a campaign aimed at Australians ?

  20. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    My mistake, I didn’t realise Dave’s was a photoshop.

    I still think it’s a rubbish argument though, and the keenness you display in regurgitating a lame News Ltd talking point is endemic of the lack of arguments against the ads. It’s a distraction tactic, and it’s pathetic that you have fallen head over heels to repeat it multiple times here while at the same time trying to distance yourself from it.

    I repeat – how thick are you to think this is a genuine criticism?

  21. GavinM


    How thick are you — the powerstation on the ad looks nothing like Hazelwood, its definitely Battersea.

    I’d suggest an eye test — for you and Surly.

    That I happen to think that a closed down overseas powerstation isn’t relevant to a campaign aimed at Australians has nothing to do with News Ltd.

    How thick is someone who thinks anyone they disagree with is just parrotting talking points from an organisation they dislike ?

    Take a look in the mirror RUS.


    I don’t know if Hazelwood is the filthiest powerstation in the developed world, there is some dispute over that, but its probably in the top 5 — thats high enough and the water it uses is recycled.

    At any rate, Hazelwood is exactly the powerstation they should have used — thats been my point all along.

  22. Holden Back

    I do love a good self-righteous splutter myself. Has Piers Akerman weighed in yet?

  23. RobJ

    Oooh look, there’s black smoke. Hazelwood is the filthiest power station in the developed world, huge amounts of water are wasted every day, cooling it suppressing the coal dust and preventing the coal seams from catching fire.. Maybe they should have used it, with the stats.

  24. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Update – as posted by SurlySimon the power station in the image is Hazelwood.

  25. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    GavinM you are arguing a bogus News Ltd talking point. How thick are you?

  26. GavinM


    The picture you’ve linked to is of steam coming from the cooling towers — interesting photo though.

    Think Big,

    I’m pretty sure the failure of the ETS was one of the reasons given at the time for Rudd’s dismissal, I can recall thinking it was more than a little unfair given that it really wasn’t his fault that it didn’t get up.

    Gorgeous Dunny

    The election in 2013 won’t be a chance to say yes or no to the carbon price because it will already be implemented — we both know the Libs won’t roll it back so it will be here to stay by then.

    At any rate, as I said above somewhere I have no issue with them implementing this scheme as long as the government keeps it’s promise regarding compensation to those who need it…Time will tell on that I guess.

    My only objection, (and its a fairly minor one really), is that the ad being discussed would have been better served using a picture of a currently operating Australian powerstation rather than a foreign one thats been closed for nearly 30 years.

    And the foolish posts about the sun being grey, the dollar coin being too big etc, are irrelevant because its not the sun or the dollar coin that are being targetted by this campaign…Its about the Australian coal fired power industry.

    Brizben (last and least),

    Deniers ?

    What have I posted that says I’m denying anything — please show a quote.

  27. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    I can’t wait for the deniers to start arguing the font used in the ad was created by a Stalinist which proves it’s all a communist plot.

  28. captious

    GavinM @48

    the stations here just don’t look dirty enough to convince people of their message.

    Up to a point, Lord Copper:

  29. Gorgeous Dunny

    Posted May 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough Quantize — I guess the Greens did their bit to scuttle it as well.

    The point is though, to answer Zoot — we haven’t, and I suspect, aren’t likely to be, given the opportunity to say yes or no to this carbon price.]

    You’ll get your chance in 2013. What’s more you might be in a better position to judge whether this is the right way to go. If we have to rely on Alan Jones for the scientific case, after his recent opinion on the NBN, I’d suggest we still have to get all the facts.

    And on this business of ‘O-O-H She Lied when she said she’d have no carbon tax’, what about Mr Abbott’s statements?

    First, in response to Gillard’s Citizen’s Assembly proposal before implementing, Abbott said, “The 150 elected representatives ARE a citizens assembly. Surely what they decide should be enough.” Well that is exactly what he’s got with the multi-party committee on climate change and carbon pricing. It’s hardly Gillard’s fault if Abbott refuses to let his party’s members participate.

    Second, after the near-deadlock election result and the eventual formation of a minority government, Abbott said, “She doesn’t have a mandate for anything.” If he really believes that, as distinct from just spouting hot air, why is he trying to hold her to a pre-election promise, which is hardly valid if it failed to win voter support.

    As others said frequently at the time of government formation we have entered a new paradigm. Get used to it!

  30. Think Big

    [In 2007 Zoot, we voted Rudd in with an ETS as an election policy, over which Labor knifed him.]

    I don’t think that’s correct – no one has ever suggested that they removed Rudd because of the ETS. They removed him because he was a control-freak who had trouble delegating.

    [In 2010 Gillard said there’d be no carbon tax “in a government that I lead” — so I’d suggest we haven’t voted for it yet.]
    Except what we’re getting is not actually a tax –
    it’s an ETS with a fixed-price period and tradeable derivatives but the media love saying ‘tax’ so I guess that means it is one?

  31. Marek Bage

    That Bogan City Councillor needn’t waste his time with FOIs.
    This morning, on ABC702, Michael Caton confirmed that both he and Cate Blanchett donated their services for this campaign.

    Whilst on the topic, does anybody recall condemnation from the Fairfax press of millionaire celebrity, Angry Anderson, when he shoved his ugly mug into the the Carbon Tax debate?

    Hmmm, thought not.


  32. quantize

    Seems to me to be picking at stuff that’s fairly irrelevant…the ad makes the point just fine.

  33. Brizben

    It is like all the deniers have A.D.D. What is the big deal with SFX in advertising or the use of clip art on webpages for that matter. If there is a “webpage Under Construction” clip art does any one actually think construction workers are working inside the computer?

    In unrelated news The Onion recently did a good story “Autistic Reporter: Train Thankfully Unharmed In Crash That Killed One Man.”

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