Rachel Ward, Bryan Brown and Rebecca Gibney are among the latest 120 high-profile figures to join the fight against the Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania, lending their signatures to an advertisement that will appear in tomorrow’s Wentworth Courier in Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate. The ad uses its celebrity currency to call for Turnbull to allow “a full and just hearing” on the controversial mill.

These types of ad campaigns are becoming increasingly popular with stars and starlets worldwide. Is this Turnbull attack part of a wider soft-left celebrity offensive? Are we beginning to allow largely unrelated and unqualified public figures to steer social debate?

Crikey has compiled a brief list of recent local celebrity protests and political intrusions.

Climate Change:

Cate Blanchett last year made her presence known at a Sydney protest calling for political action on climate change. Blanchett, who was the face of Earth Hour this year, introduced a new web-based campaign, whoonearthcares.com earlier this month.

Live export bans:

In 2004 Tim Winton, Hugo Weaving, Daniel Johns, Rachael Ward, Natalie Imbruglia, Vanessa Amorosi and Suzie Wilks signed a newspaper advertisement calling for a ban on the export of livestock to countries that do not have acceptable animal welfare laws.


Actor Jack Thompson leant his voice to an advertisement produced by refugee groups designed to protest the Government’s changes to immigration policy in 2006.

Big Brother evictee Merlin Luck publicly joined the refugee rights campaign after staging a silent protest against mandatory detention on live television in 2004. 

Actors for Refugees, founded by Alice Garner and Kate Atkinson in Melbourne in 2001, is a group aiming to “use the collective might of Australian actors to influence community attitudes toward refugees and asylum seekers and to encourage a humanitarian response to their plight.” They have been involved in a number of protests and campaigns.

Iraq War:

Actor Judy Davis handed over an American citizenship application for the PM to staff at Kirribilli House as part of a 2003 anti-war protest.

Kerry Armstrong, Rebecca Gibney, Annie Phelan and Joan Kirner all wore their bras outside their clothes as part of a large 2003 anti-war protest.

WA’s Ningaloo Reef:

Australian born former NBA star Luc Armstrong joined Tim Winton in a community fight to save WA’s Ningaloo Reef from large-scale development plans.

Electoral Enrolment:

Powderfinger, Missy Higgs, Jet, John Butler Trio, Sleepy Jackson, Little Birdie, Silverchair and Wolfmother have recently come together as part of Rock Enrol, a Triple J/AEC initiative, to raise awareness about enrolment and voting.

Overseas Aid:

U2 rocker Bono used his celebrity muscle to organise a meeting with the Prime Minister to urge him to raise overseas aid as part of the Make Poverty History campaign.

Industrial Relations:

Dallas Crane, Beasts of Bourbon, Hoodoo Gurus, Magic Dirt, Missy Higgins, Something for Kate, the Heard, the Screaming Jets, the Whitlams, You Am I, Youth Group, Richard Clapton and Deni Hines performed at the anti-WorkChoices Rockin’ for Rights festival in Sydney earlier this year.


Missy Higgins, AFL footballer Michael O’Loughlin and actors Michael Caton and Leah Purcell were part of a TV, online and print “sorry” campaign this year.