ClubsNSW boss sacked over Perrottet comments
As the storm grew Tuesday morning, Landis initially argued that he “misspoken” during the Herald interview. But as the threat to his career grew, he contacted Perrottet to apologize and also issued a scathing public statement.
“I want to make it clear that I misspoke in answering the question and should not have referred to the prime minister’s faith,” Landis said in the statement.
“This was not a premeditated comment or a deliberate attack on the Prime Minister personally. Rather, it was a poor attempt to explain that there is a lack of evidence for the policy and the Prime Minister is a moral person who intrinsically wants to help those who harm themselves.”
Reacting to news of Landis’ comments and subsequent firing on Tuesday, senior club executives said his comments were unhelpful at a time when the industry needed to work with the government.
Campbelltown Catholic Club chief executive Michael Lavorato said linking the pokies debate to Perrottet’s religion was unfortunate but should not distract from the wider issue.
“I think if Josh could get his way again, he would choose his words a little more carefully. From our point of view … the Prime Minister’s faith has nothing to do with this debate. I wouldn’t have chosen those words,” he said.
Labor leader Chris Minns said Landis’ position was untenable following his comments about the NSW premier.Credit: Dominic Lorrimer
“This is an unhelpful distraction and I just keep repeating, everyone has now taken their stand. The government are the only ones left behind, yet they were the ones making the noise… we just want to see what we’re dealing with.”
Mounties chief executive Dale Hunt said he believed Landis’ comments were divisive at a time when clubs needed to engage in broad policy reform.
“We run poker machines, and we also use alcohol. Both come with a social responsibility,” Hunt said.
“Mounties support gambling reform … I support a cashless gambling card. But I would like to see those on the practical side [pubs and clubs] involved in the decision-making.”
NSW Labor has already released its gaming policy, which includes a mandatory cashless gaming trial of 500 machines and a gradual phasing out of poker machine numbers.
Perrottet said Tuesday that Landis’ comments were “incredibly inappropriate and offensive” to people of faith across the state.
“Those comments are not an attack on me, they 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 such comments in modern Australia,” he said.
The statement announcing Landis’ termination was issued minutes after Minns told 2GB radio his position was untenable.
“We simply cannot have a situation in NSW politics where sectarian and divisive nature or comments or even people’s ultimate motives are being questioned based on their religion when there is absolutely no evidence of it,” the Opposition Leader said.
Independent Alex Greenwich was among the MPs who defended Dominic Perrottet and called for Landis’ resignation.Credit:NewsWire Photos.
Minns led a chorus of NSW politicians calling for Landis’ scalp, including outgoing Cities Minister Rob Stokes and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello.
Independent MPs Alex Greenwich, Joe McGirr and Helen Dalton also criticized the lobbyist’s attack on the Prime Minister, saying his position was untenable.
Greenwich, a key advocate for the cashless gambling card and whose support for any minority government after the March 25 election could depend on the reform going ahead, said Landis had presided over the transformation of community clubs into “mini-casinos”. .
Landis’ decision to cite Perrottet’s Catholic faith was also condemned by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Australian Jewish Association. The Council of Deputies welcomed both his apology and resignation.
The now-former ClubsNSW boss told this masthead on Monday that the lobby group supported voluntary cashless gaming but wanted to see further trials before introducing any mandatory policy, arguing he believed the premier would have trouble pursuing the reform.
“He’s going to struggle because he can’t please everyone,” Landis said.
“I think it’s fair to say that the Prime Minister has very little understanding of this issue.”
Perrottet did not comment on Landis’ resignation.
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