Dominic Perrottet: Flippant ‘Catholic’ comment enrages NSW Premier

Clubs NSW CEO is SACKED over a flippant comment he made about Premier Dominic Perrottet’s Catholic faith

  •  ClubsNSW boss invoked NSW Premier’s Catholicism
  •  Perrottet says it was ‘incredibly inappropriate, offensive’
  • CEO Josh Landis issued a grovelling apology 

A furious Dominic Perrottet slammed the comment about his Catholicism as ‘incredibly inappropriate and offensive’

A top lobbyist for the clubs industry has been sacked over a flippant comment he made about NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s Catholic faith.

Josh Landis was stood down as the CEO of ClubsNSW on Tuesday afternoon following a meeting of the club’s board, after Mr Landis made comments saying Mr Perrottet’s push for gambling reform was influenced by his religion.

A statement shared by Clubs NSW thanked Mr Landis for his ‘service to the industry’ and said the end of his employment was ‘effective immediately’.

‘ClubsNSW has met today to discuss the comments made by CEO Josh Landis yesterday,’ it read.

‘After careful consideration, the Board has made the decision to end Mr Landis’ employment with ClubsNSW with immediate effect.

‘The Board acknowledges Josh Landis’ exemplary service to the industry over more than 15 years through some very difficult times. We genuinely wish him all the best on his future endeavours.

‘The Board will consider its next steps and has no further comment at this point in time.’ 

Mr Landis said Dominic Perrottet had ‘acted from his conservative Catholic gut’ on the issue of a cashless gambling card. The remark drew a visceral response from the premier.

Josh Landis, the CEO of Clubs NSW (above, at a club with his wife) issued a grovelling apology

Josh Landis, the CEO of Clubs NSW (above, at a club with his wife) issued a grovelling apology

‘It is incredibly inappropriate and offensive to people of faith right across NSW,’ Mr Perrottet said on Tuesday.

‘(The comments) are an attack on every single person of faith in our state.

‘We live in a tolerant state, a tolerant country, and there is no place for comments like that in a modern Australia.’

Making the same comment about Islamic, Jewish or Hindu faiths would result in a resignation, the premier said earlier on Sydney radio 2GB.

Mr Landis had commented on Mr Perrottet’s commitment to mandate cashless gaming for poker machines.

‘I think it’s fair to say that the premier has very little understanding of this issue and has acted from his conservative Catholic gut, rather than based on evidence,’ Mr Landis said in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday.

By lunchtime, Mr Landis had withdrawn his comments and privately apologised to the premier.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise publicly for any offence caused,’ he said in a public statement.

He said he was responding to a question about the premier being ‘so insistent’ on introducing a mandatory cashless system and other gaming reforms.

The comment wasn’t premeditated or an intentional personal attack, he said.

‘Rather it was a poor attempt to explain that there is a lack of evidence for the policy and the premier is a moral person who intrinsically wants to help those who are causing themselves harm.’

Before the apology, kingmaker independent MP Alex Greenwich, who has been critical of ClubsNSW, said Mr Landis’s position as chief executive was ‘beyond untenable and it was time for him to go’.

Multicultural Minister Mark Coure dubbed the comment ‘a childish attempt to direct attention away from a major social issue in NSW’.

Problem gambling has become a hot-button issue ahead of the March 25 state election, with political parties under pressure to introduce cashless gaming after a NSW Crime Commission report found billions of dollars in dirty money was being laundered through machines every year.

ClubsNSW released a code of conduct on Monday offering a swathe of reforms to the industry, including a ban on suspected criminals, in a bid to avert the introduction of mandatory cashless gaming cards.

But Mr Perrottet remains committed to the cards’ introduction – saying details of the government’s proposal will be released ‘soon’.

Labor says it will cut the number of poker machines and introduce a cashless gaming trial on 500 of the state’s 90,000 machines.