KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: …on to other stories this morning and, I tell you, one of them has got to be that advertisement supporting the push for a carbon tax and it stars Cate Blanchett, Michael Caton… wow, what a backlash! Let’s have a look at the clip that’s stirring.
MICHAEL CATON: What if we say ‘yes’ to making big companies pay when they pollute our skies? We’d be saying ‘yes’ to less carbon pollution.
D. PYSDEN: ‘Yes’ to new money for clean energy that never runs out.
P. PENN: ‘Yes’ to help for people struggling with bills.
B. WALKER: ‘Yes’ to jobs.
LAILA BAZZI: ‘Yes’ to better health for our kids.
CATE BLANCHETT: And finally doing something about climate change.
MICHAEL CATON: So let’s say ‘yes’, Australia, because ‘yes’ is what makes this country great.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: And wow, what a backlash it has caused. Now, Cate Blanchett has been called ‘out of touch’ for supporting this, what some suggest is, an unpopular initiative, while the organisations behind the advertisement accused, accuse the ‘right’ of a real scare campaign. Now, one of the other stars of the ad is mother of three Laila Bazzi. She joins me. Laila, welcome.
LAILA BAZZI: Good morning, Kerri-Anne. Thank you.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: And also, this morning, we’re joined by Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham, who’s the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, and a very good morning to you, Senator.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, Kerri-Anne.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Now, Leila, first to you. Now, I understand you’re a mother, you’re a wife. You’re not an actor.
LAILA BAZZI: No, not a paid professional in any way.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: So you’re passionate about climate change. Now, could you give me a little bit more about your background? You and your husband, what do you do?
LAILA BAZZI: Well, currently I’m on maternity leave. I’m having a third child and at the moment ‘stay at home mum’ so also watching the bills because we’ve foregone another income in the household, so…
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: What were you doing?
LAILA BAZZI: I’m an accountant in background and my last role was training people as well, so…
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: So, as a mum of three, a wife, looking at the passion this issue has stirred and as an accountant, how will a carbon tax help climate change?
LAILA BAZZI: Okay. Well, I know, as an accountant, unless you put the cost of pollution on the balance sheet, businesses aren’t going to do anything about it and, as a mum, I know that there are plenty of mums and parents out there and households out there, that are working really tirelessly to cut down on their pollution. I think it’s unfair that the business end of town, the big polluters, the people that are making the profits, aren’t being called to cut their… on their pollution.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: When you have a tax, a carbon tax… now, whether you raise from this carbon tax one billion or 100 billion, or a trillion, how will it change the issues about climate?
LAILA BAZZI: Well, businesses won’t be forced to cut down on their pollution and their energy use and invest in clean forms of technology unless we give them the incentive to do that. We’ve…
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: But how will getting money, from wherever it comes from, help? Where will they spend the dollars?
LAILA BAZZI: Well, the money will be invested in clean forms of technology and that’s what we need. We need to take advantage of a lot of the advances we’ve made in clean energy and to capitalise on a lot of the amazing research and development Australia’s been doing over the years, but we really haven’t been getting into those markets and there’s a lot of export dollars also to be obtained from those industries.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Now, Senator, you and your party have been accused of a scare campaign. What’s your view?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Kerri-Anne, it’s not a scare campaign to simply highlight the facts and the facts are that when you put a tax on companies, when you put a tax on business, they will pass it on so when you put a tax on electricity, consumers and householders will be the ones who pay more. When you put it on gas, they’ll pay more. When you put it on any type of manufactured product in Australia, including many of our food production activities, we’ll end up paying more at the supermarket, at the checkout, everywhere people go. We think there is a better way to tackle the issue of reducing carbon emissions. We’re in complete agreement with Laila and everyone else who wants to reduce emissions. It’s about how you achieve that. We think you achieve it far…
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: So what will you do, Senator?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: We will achieve it by going out to the market and inviting business, agriculture, others to tender, to say ‘how will you go about reducing emissions?’ and we’ll provide incentives and support for those companies, for those farmers etc to be able to do so. We’ll directly support…
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Now, Laila… Sorry, I’ll just… because we only… and I appreciate the limited time this morning. Cate Blanchett has really copped a lot of adverse criticism here. What’s your view?
LAILA BAZZI: Oh, look, I think the vitriol has been vicious and unfair. At the end of the day, Cate’s a mum too and she’s a compassionate person who also wants to do our bit to help the next generation.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: And, Senator, how do you view the criticism of Cate Blanchett? Being famous and, slash, rich does that exclude you from having an opinion?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: No, look, we’re a free country and everybody’s entitled to their opinion and good on everyone who’s participated in this for getting out there and having their say. This is a free country with a free debate. I would argue there’s a better way to do it than the carbon tax, a way that puts less cost pressures on Australian families and households and can get us the reduction in CO2 emissions without everybody having to wear additional cost pressures for families who are already struggling.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: And given the fact families will struggle, finally Laila, if America, China, India, the biggest polluters in the world. If we literally fell off the edge of the planet and didn’t exist, we’re not going to make much of a dint on it. Why should we be first?
LAILA BAZZI: Well, I think that’s a myth too. There’s a lot of countries, about over 30 in Europe alone, who have gone ahead with a carbon tax. In Britain in the last couple of weeks, they’ve got a much more aggressive campaign to reduce their pollution and I have to make it very clear this is not a tax on households, it’s a tax on the big polluters and that’s getting lost in the debate about Cate. This is on the big polluters. Let them step up to their responsibility and clean up their pollution. We tell our kids not to pollute. Let’s get these big polluting companies to also do the same.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Laila Bazzi, we do appreciate your time this morning I think it’s quite brave and Senator Simon Birmingham, thank you very much for your time, we appreciate it.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Always a pleasure, Kerri-Anne.
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Terrific.