Nathan Rees

Nathan Rees
Nathan Rees MP
Constituency Toongabbie
41st Premier of New South Wales
In office
5 September 2008 – 4 December 2009
Deputy Carmel Tebbutt
Preceded by Morris Iemma
Succeeded by Kristina Keneally
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Toongabbie
Assumed office
Preceded by New district
Personal details
Born 12 February 1968 (1968-02-12) (age 43)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Stacey Haines

Nathan Rees MP (born 12 February 1968),[1] an Australian politician, was the 41st Premier of New South Wales and parliamentary leader of the New South Wales division of the Australian Labor Party from September 2008 to December 2009. Rees is a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Toongabbie for Labor since 2007.

Rees replaced Morris Iemma as Premier and party leader on 5 September 2008.[2] On 3 December 2009, Rees was deposed as leader of the Labor Party by Kristina Keneally after he resoundingly lost a secret ballot in the Labor Party caucus after fifteen months as Premier. He is the shortest-serving member of the New South Wales Parliament to become Premier since Federation, and the only Labor Premier of New South Wales not to lead the party into an election.


Early life

Rees was born in 1968 in Western Sydney to parents Daryl and Frances, his mother being a long time member of the Labor Party, reportedly from Penrith, New South Wales.[3] He attended Northmead High School where he served as school captain. On leaving school he initially took up a horticultural apprenticeship and worked as a greenskeeper for Parramatta Council. Subsequently he went on to study English literature at the University of Sydney, attaining an honours degree in 1994, supporting himself by working as a garbage collector (colloquially a "garbo") at the same council.[4][5][6] During his time at the Council he became Secretary of the then Municipal and Shire Employees Union.[4]

Rees was a long-distance runner, and a member of the Parramatta Cycling Club, where he won many events. When training for races, Rees would cycle up to 1000 km per week. He once attained third place in a state triathlon.[7]


Rees's first job in politics was in 1995, when he became an adviser to the then deputy premier Andrew Refshauge, for whom his mother, Frances, worked. During this period, Rees cycled between Bullaburra in the Blue Mountains, where he lived at the time, and central Sydney, a distance of more than 90 km (56 mi).[7]

He subsequently worked for Ministers Craig Knowles and Morris Iemma,[8] and as chief of staff for Minister Milton Orkopoulos.[9] Rees transferred to the Premier's office in 2006, three months before Orkopoulos was charged with paedophilia.[7] Rees has stated that he had no knowledge of the crimes committed by Orkopoulos and would have reported him to the police had he been aware of them.[dubious ] Former Labor MP Paul O'Grady claimed in September 2008 that Rees had chosen to remain ignorant of the allegations.[10]

He was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on 24 March 2007 and became Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister for Water Utilities, on 2 April 2007.[11] As Minister for Water Utilities, he was responsible for implementing the $1.9 billion Sydney Desalination Plant at Kurnell, and the proposed Tillegra Dam in the Hunter Valley.[12][13]

In July 2008, he was touted by the Sydney media as being a contender for Premier. Rees denied that he was a contender for the role, saying that "Premier Iemma has my rock-solid, unequivocal support and he knows that".[14] Two months after this interview, Morris Iemma was deposed as Premier in favour of Rees.[14]


After the resignation of Morris Iemma on 5 September 2008, later in the day, Rees was nominated for the position of Premier and won the unanimous support of the Labor Party caucus.[2] He was sworn in by the Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales, Supreme Court Chief Justice James Spigelman after only nineteen months as a Member of Parliament. Carmel Tebbutt was elected unanimously as Deputy Leader, and thus Deputy Premier.[15] The following Monday, 8 September, Rees was also sworn in as Minister for the Arts.

A slump in revenues associated with the recent global financial crisis compelled Rees and the State Treasurer Eric Roozendaal to implement a mini-budget which was handed down on 11 November 2008.[16] The mini-budget increased taxes and charges such as land tax, mineral royalties, parking space levies and also announced the privatisation of state assets. A universal scheme providing free travel on public transport for all students going to and from school was curtailed - a decision since reversed[17] - and the previously announced North West Metro and South West rail projects were indefinitely postponed.[18] A series of by-elections to replace former Premier Morris Iemma, Deputy Premier John Watkins and Health Minister Reba Meagher resulted in massive swings against the government and saw John Watkins' former seat of Ryde resoundingly lost to the Liberals.

Soon after returning from his wedding in New York, Rees dismissed rumours of a leadership challenge within the Labor party.[19] After the resignation of John Della Bosca as Minister for Health and the Central Coast, and after a subsequent cabinet reshuffle, Rees appointed himself as Minister for the Central Coast.

On 14 November 2009, Rees was granted extraordinary powers by the New South Wales Labor State Conference to pick his own cabinet (usually the Labor caucus and Head Office chooses the ministry, and the leader only assigns portfolios).[20] The next day Rees sacked Finance Minister (and Labor powerbroker) Joe Tripodi, Primary Industries Minister Ian McDonald, and Parliamentary Secretaries Henry Tsang and Sonia Hornery for blocking key reforms aimed at distancing the government from corruption and improving the provision of services to constituents and for plotting to remove him from the premiership.[21][22] This was the fourth time since Rees had taken over the premiership that there had been a cabinet reshuffle.

On 3 December 2009, Rees resigned after a spill motion was passed 43 to 25 at a caucus meeting.[23] In the subsequent leadership vote, the Minister for Planning, Kristina Keneally, defeated Rees by 47 votes to 21. Rees lost the crucial backing of the dominant right faction of the Labor Party. Earlier that day, Rees said at a press conference, "I will not hand over New South Wales to Eddie Obeid or Joe Tripodi" and that if someone were to replace him by the end of the day "they will be a puppet of Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid".[24][25] Rees is the first and only New South Wales Labor Party Premier not to lead the party into an election.

Personal life

Rees is a non-practising Roman Catholic, and proudly describes himself as "a westie".[7] He met his wife, Stacey Haines, at Northmead High School when they were both aged 14. Haines works for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.[7] They live in Wentworthville.[26] Rees and Haines married in a ceremony at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau in New York City on 7 January 2009.[27]


  1. ^ McNicoll, D.D. (23 December 2008). "Secrecy the safest policy". The Australian (News Limited).,25197,24834642-25090,00.html. 
  2. ^ a b Smith, Alexandra; Robbin, Brian (5 September 2008). "Nathan Rees confirmed as new NSW Premier". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  3. ^ "A puppet? Ask her, says Rees". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 4 December 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Inaugural Speech of the Member for Toongabbie". NSW Hansard. 8 May 2007. 
  5. ^ Clennell, Andrew (5 September 2008). "All you need to know about Nathan Rees". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Mills, Alison (5 September 2008). "Nathan Rees: From greenkeeper to Premier of NSW". Blacktown Sun (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Clennell, Andrew; Smith, Alexandra (19 July 2008). "Stalking horse or tried stayer?". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "Nathan Rees, former Chief of Staff for Milton Orkopoulos: Piccoli". NSW Nationals. 9 July 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ "0728—MR NATHAN REES". Parliament of New South Wales.!OpenDocument. 
  10. ^ "Rees 'knew nothing' about Orkopoulos". Nine News (ninemsn Pty Ltd). 21 September 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2009. 
  11. ^ "The Hon. Nathan REES, MP". Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  12. ^ "Desalination plant construction 30 per cent complete, and wind power contract signed". Media Release. Sydney Water. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2008. 
  13. ^ "Central Coast Banking Excess Water For Future Drought Use". Minister's statement. Wyong Shire Council. 17 May 2007. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008.'s_statement_about_water_reversal.pdf. Retrieved 6 September 2008. 
  14. ^ a b Norrington, Brad; Salusinszky, Imre (11 July 2008). "Preferred leader Nathan Rees backs Morris Iemma". The Australian (News Limited).,25197,24001958-5006784,00.html. 
  15. ^ "Rees sworn in as NSW Premier". News Limited. 5 September 2008.,23599,24299074-29277,00.html. Retrieved 5 September 2008. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Budget blow-out: NSW to reveal $915m deficit". ABC News (Australia). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  17. ^ New South Wales Ministry of Transport (21 December 2008). "School Student Transport Scheme Update". Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  18. ^ Dempster, Quentin (11 November 2008). "Analysis: Public confidence in deficit". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  19. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation (16 January 2009). "Rees dismisses leadership rumours". Retrieved 16 January 2009. 
  20. ^ Carty, Lisa (15 November 2009). "Do or die: Premier moves to axe MPs". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  21. ^ "Rees crackdown: ministers axed from NSW cabinet". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 15 November 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  22. ^ Dinneen, Martin (17 November 2009). "Hornery to Keep Fighting". Newcastle Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  23. ^ Josh Jerga (3 December 2009). "Katrina Keneally is Catholic feminist with American twang". The Daily Telegraph (News Limited). Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  24. ^ Salusinszky. Imre (3 December 2009). "Kristina Keneally set to take Premier's job". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  25. ^ "Kristina Keneally becomes first female premier of NSW". The Daily Telegraph (News Limited). 3 December 2009.,21598,26437161-948,00.html. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  26. ^ "Nathan Rees MP". Labor People. New South Wales Labor Party. Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  27. ^ "NSW Premier Nathan Rees weds in secret New York ceremony". The Daily Telegraph (News Limited). 7 January 2009.,25197,24882991-26103,00.html. 

External links

Parliament of New South Wales
New district Member for Toongabbie
2007 – present
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Kelly
Minister for Emergency Services
2007 – 2008
Succeeded by
Tony Kelly
Preceded by
David Campbell
Minister for Water Utilities
2007 – 2008
Succeeded by
Preceded by
as Minister for Water Utilities
Minister for Water
Succeeded by
Phil Costa
Preceded by
Morris Iemma
Premier of New South Wales
2008 – 2009
Succeeded by
Kristina Keneally
Preceded by
Frank Sartor
Minister for Arts
2008 – 2009
Succeeded by
Virginia Judge
Preceded by
John Hatzistergos
Minister for the Central Coast
Succeeded by
Ian Macdonald
Party political offices
Preceded by
Morris Iemma
Leader of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales
2008 – 2009
Succeeded by
Kristina Keneally

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