Olivia Newton-John is the latest celebrity to take on the powerful mining industry over environmental issues. Newton-John, the United Nation's Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment, risks a ''Carbon Cate'' backlash over her public opposition - outlined today in The Sunday Age - to a controversial method of extracting natural gas from coal seams.
Newton-John is concerned about the use of hydraulic fracturing - known as ''fracking'' or ''fraccing'' - which injects huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals deep into shale rock to release gas for commercial use.
A boom in fracking over the past decade has fuelled an unlikely alliance between environmentalists and farmers, who claim the method contaminates ground water and soil, is linked to earthquakes and may even cause diseases such as leukaemia.
The campaign by Newton-John against coal seam gas has infuriated the influential mining lobby, which recently pilloried actress Cate Blanchett over her support of the carbon tax, dubbing her ''Carbon Cate''.
''I kind of expect to be criticised, but this is important,'' said Newton-John. ''I realised that not many people are aware, as I wasn't, of this potential environmental disaster going on around them. I don't claim to be an expert, I am just using my voice to draw attention to what is happening.''