Comedian turned activist Craig Reucassel on his fight for the planet


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Craig Reucassel, TV and radio presenter, prankster, actor and planet promoter, who made his name on The Chaser is on another mission. This month Craig is back on the ABC with Fight for Planet A: Our Climate Challenge to show how to reduce our carbon footprint by making practical day-to-day changes.  

What was your first job?

I had a brief stint as a gardener but my main job as a teenager was working at an ice creamery. It was the training store for a franchise so we were constantly teaching new people who were coming in before setting up their own stores.

Craig Reuccasel's new show, Fight for Planet A, hits ABC on August 11.

How did you move from comedy to activism?

There was always a fair chunk of activism in The Chaser's comedy. It was often motivated by outrage at hypocrisy. The balance has just shifted a bit over the years, right now I'm doing shows where the comedy is secondary to the outrage, rather than the other way around.

How did your university education help you get to where you are today?

It helped me in a few ways. The most obvious is that I met all the friends who would go on to form The Chaser at university. I also spent a lot of time doing university newspapers, revues and other creative outlets that have helped me in the career I fell into accidentally. Despite not actually following the careers linked to my study (politics and law) I think they have still served me well in understanding how things work and have taught me how to research.

What's the best money advice you've received?

Growing up I don't remember being fed specific advice about money, but my parents were pretty sensible with money and not the kind of people to splash it around or go into a lot of debt. So the example they set was probably the advice I took on. When doing The Checkout I think the best advice was  to look back at your long-term contracts - phone, insurance, mortgage - pretty frequently and see if you can get a better deal. Your inertia is a favourite tool used to take your money.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

Definitely buying a house. My wife and I had kids reasonably young, in our twenties, and this probably forced us to settle down and buy earlier than we would have otherwise. We didn't really have the big spending DINK (double income, no kids) period of life.  We bought a house with asbestos, damp and termites, the unholy trinity, but it worked out well in the long run.

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

I think some members of my family would suggest that I have bought a few too many cheap boats on Gumtree than don't float or sail. One also got stolen from the side of the road, but it needed a lot of work, so the joke was on the thief.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Mountain bikes and kayaks. I don't buy very expensive ones, but given how infrequently I get to use them they become a splurge.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

Boring answer but probably just pay down the mortgage, although I did see this great sailing boat on Gumtree...

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

Sit my teenagers down for a good long chat.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

I guess so, hadn't really started planning for my death, thanks for bringing it up.

What changes have you made in doing your job to reduce carbon footprint?

I have had green energy for many years, and have also installed solar panels and try to reduce our energy use. I have tried to move to a more efficient car, although not having any off-street parking makes the step to an EV difficult, which is why we need governments to invest in more public chargers. Have also tried to replace a lot of car trips with bus or bike riding. Trying to reduce red meat in my diet too, although occasionally fail on this one.

Finish this sentence: money makes ...

Money. Which unfortunately explains our growing inequality.

Fight for Planet A: Our Climate Challenge starts August 11 on ABC

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.
Christina Faulk
August 8, 2020 12.13pm

With his VERY secure ABC job behind him Craig is really not in a position to offer advice to ordinary Australians who -especially in current times- can even afford to contemplate bats, kayaks or any other boy toys. Leave the ABC and find a job in the real world, Craig, and then see how your world view alters!

Wendy Gourlay
December 27, 2020 11.20pm

Ouch Christina you obviously are not a fan of Craig. Secure job with the ABC! You've got to be joking. Reminder! Ongoing funding cuts. I think you may have skim read the interview as he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Obviously intelligent, hardworking and very talented, enabling many of us to look at the big picture on so many issues. Also he is extremely funny, and really what's not to like about Craig.

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