The founder of Youth Off the Streets, Father Chris Riley, has lent his support to a Clubs Australia advertising blitz targeting two million homes in NSW, as the gambling lobby intensifies its battle against the Gillard government’s proposed poker machine reforms.
Father Riley, whose charity receives substantial donations from gambling venues, seems at the very least to face a conflict of interest.
In my view, Riley is a traitor to the people who depend on him (both morally and materially), and an embarrassment to the Catholic Church. But here’s the rub: would any of our Christian counselling agencies continue their gambling counselling without funds provided by the clubs and hotels? Would Christians and others fill the funding gap?
I doubt it, and both the government and the gambling industry know this. It’s a filthy tit-for-tat arrangement where everyone wins as long as no one asks the embarrassing questions. Everyone, that is, except those attracted to poker machines.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 18 December 2011.
Theologian, researcher, teacher, writer, foodie, husband, dad. Works at Moore Theological College.