The head of the powerful clubs lobby in New South Wales has been sacked after accusing the premier, Dominic Perrottet, of pushing gambling reform because of his “conservative Catholic gut”.
The ClubsNSW board met and voted to fire the chief executive, Josh Landis, on Tuesday, after calls were made for his resignation by the opposition leader, Chris Minns, and independent MP Alex Greenwich.
It also came after Landis released an unreserved apology and contacted Perrottet directly to express his regret over the comments, which were published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I would like to take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise publicly for any offence caused,” he said, insisting the comments were not a premeditated attack.
Four hours later, Landis was out of the job.
“ClubsNSW has met today to discuss the comments made by chief executive Josh Landis yesterday,” a ClubsNSW spokesperson said.
“After careful consideration, the board has made the decision to end Mr Landis’ employment with ClubsNSW with immediate effect.”
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Just moments before, Minns told 2GB he did not believe Landis could continue in his role “given the charged atmosphere”.
“They’ve got to think about the future of clubs,” he said.
He said there was no place for “that kind of sectarian and discriminatory language” in NSW politics.
Before the sacking, Perrottet said Landis’s comments were “offensive” to all people of faith.
“It is incredibly inappropriate and offensive to people of faith right across NSW,” he said.
“We live in a tolerant state, a tolerant country, and there is no place for comments like that in a modern Australia.”
Greenwich said the ClubsNSW Board made the right decision.
“I now look forward to meaningful engagement with clubs across NSW on cashless gaming technology without threats and targeted campaigns designed to intimidate MPs.”
Landis made the comments amid a battle over gambling reform in NSW, and less than two months before the state election.
ClubsNSW on Monday released a new code of conduct for venues that Landis said would serve as sufficient reforms for the sector as he continued to fight against the introduction of mandatory cashless gaming cards.
The plan was dismissed by experts and gambling reform advocates as doing too little and doing so too late.
Before the firing, Greenwich said it was “untenable” for Landis to continue in the role.
The state’s multiculturalism minister, Mark Coure, said the comments were “a childish attempt to direct attention away from a major social issue in NSW”.
The government plans to introduce a mandatory cashless gaming scheme but has not yet released its plan that Perrottet says will form part of the Coalition’s long-awaited response to the crime commission report that found widespread laundering through machines.
Labor has promised to cut the number of machines and introduce a cashless gaming trial on 500 of the state’s 90,000 machines.