Dominic Perrottet hits back at ‘Catholic gut’ snipe from ClubsNSW boss on proposed gaming reforms

Dominic Perrottet hits back at ‘Catholic gut’ snipe from ClubsNSW boss on proposed gaming reforms

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has hit back at claims he is basing the state’s gambling reform policy on his “conservative Catholic gut”.

Key points: ClubsNSW chief executive Josh Landis made the comments in Nine newspapers today. Premier says it is “offensive to people of faith across New South Wales” Independent MP Alex Greenwich calls on Mr Landis “to go”

Mr Perrottet told Nine Radio this morning he was pushing for cashless playing card and poker machine reforms, putting him in conflict with the gambling body, “because it’s the right thing to do”.

It came after ClubsNSW boss Josh Landis was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning as saying the premier’s position was causing “hyper-anxiety” in the gambling industry.

“I think it’s fair to say that the prime minister has very little understanding of this issue and has acted out of his conservative Catholic gut rather than evidence,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said Mr Landis’ comment was “offensive”, and that people in prominent positions would be forced to resign if they talked about other religious groups like that.

“The decision I’ve made, and the views I have regarding games in New South Wales, is not informed by the fact that I’m Catholic. It’s because I believe it’s the right thing to do ” he said.

“Now I think it’s completely wrong for the CEO of Clubs New South Wales to say it’s … part of my Catholic faith.

‘And I would say it is offensive, not to me, but to people of faith across New South Wales.

“If you replaced the word ‘Catholic’ with ‘Islamic, Jewish or Hindu’, you would have resigned before you got to work this morning.

“It’s not about faith, and people shouldn’t attack people’s faith in relation to decision-making.”

Independent MP Alex Greenwich said Josh Landis’ position is ‘untenable’. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, a supporter of gambling reform, weighed in, saying Mr Landis should be sacked over the comment.

Mr Greenwich claims Mr Landis turned ClubsNSW into an “NRA (National Rifle Association)-style political operation” and ignored the NSW Crime Commission’s damning report into poker machines.

“Josh Landis’ position as CEO of ClubsNSW is beyond untenable and it is time for him to go,” the Sydney MP said.

“I have had my policy disagreements with the Prime Minister on social reforms, but I would never attack him on his faith. He takes a measured and evidence-based approach to reform and encourages robust debate.”

Gambling reform has become a major issue ahead of the March election, with the government and opposition outlining competing policies.

Mr Perrottet this morning declined to comment on whether there had been “Catholic bashing” in recent days, but said Mr Landis “needs to think about his words”.

Mr Landis has since issued a statement to Nine Radio retracting his comments.

“I think it’s inappropriate in a modern Australia for people to attack people’s faith,” the prime minister said.

“I’m not offended by that, but when you’re in politics, you become completely desensitized to criticism.

“My position on gambling reform is because it is the right thing to do to stop money laundering in New South Wales and stop problem gambling.”

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