Crank of the Week - August 24, 2009 - Nathan Rees

This week we have a nomination from down under. Premier Nathan Rees, head of the Australian state of New South Wales, has been nominated by his own constituents as our Crank of the Week. After reviewing Rees' qualifications we are in full agreement—anyone who can stand up at a scientific conference and compared climate change skeptics to Nazi appeasers certainly is a crank.

Premier Rees' ill-chosen remarks were made while addressing the Australian Museum's Eureka Awards ceremony. It is a nice bit of irony that the Eureka Award, Australia's highest award for scientific achievement, has been won twice by Australia's leading geologist and prominent climate change skeptic, Ian Plimer. Premier Rees said, “The threat of climate change is catastrophic. In fact, the current wave of climate change scepticism smacks of 1930s-style appeasement: 'Hide under the blankets and it will go away'. But it won't go away.” What might go away, however, is the Premier.

Recently Rees has announced an immediate ban on all departments and agencies buying bottled water, including supplies for water coolers. “Bear this in mind. You take a 600ml plastic bottle, 200ml of oil has gone into its production,” said Rees. “That's leaving aside the CO2 that comes from transporting it around the place.” The ban has been praised by eco-activists but it doesn't set well with everyone. Australians spent about $500 million on bottled water in 2008, a 10 per cent increase on 2007, so there is bound to be some backlash.

Geoff Parker, director of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute, which represents the industry, said he was disappointed by the ban. “The environmental footprint of one bottle of water of locally produced water would be much smaller than a tin of canned tomatoes imported from overseas, some imported cheese, or French champagne,” he said. “I think we need to keep it in perspective.”

One of the first promises made by Premier Rees when he took office was that he would deal with climate change, so the bottle ban seems to be in character. But according to Greens MP and mining spokesperson Lee Rhiannon, “Labor MPs voted to stifle the censure debate today to cover up Premier Rees' massive credibility gap between his rhetoric on climate change and his actions.” It seems that Rees has been talking green while cozying up to the coal industry, something the Greens can't abide. “Premier Nathan Rees deserves urgent censure for ignoring climate change experts and escalating the expansion of the NSW coal industry,” said Ms Rhiannon.

Rees now admits he could have chosen his words better when he compared climate change skeptics with Nazi appeasers of the 1930s but that's unbottled water under the bridge. Though he claims to work 17 hours a day for the people of NSW, the Premier now finds his popularity dropping in the polls. The latest Newspoll showed that more than half of NSW voters were dissatisfied with him. As one digruntled constituent commented, “Please STOP working and give us all a break.” When asked how it felt to be working such long hours for little pay-off he snapped, “how do you think?”

It looks like, as an environmentalist, Nathan Rees has feet of clay (well, maybe coal). It saddens us to know that the Happy Land is also afflicted by the same species of double talking, fear mongering political blatherskites as the US. Scumbags are evidently indigenous to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. So, for calling skeptics Nazi appeasers and banning bottled water while at the same time snuggling up to the coal industry this Crank of the Week is for you: NSW Premier Nathan Rees.

[Thanks to Markus for nominating the Honorable Nathan Rees, MP, as our latest crank]