Queensland gay businessman Ray Mackereth is facing allegations of improper conduct as documents suggest he was both the referee for a gay and lesbian business network to win a government grant, while his company was the single biggest beneficiary of that grant, taking home $7,150 for advertisements placed in QNews.
Government documents obtained by RayMackereth.com show that Mr Mackereth, along with two local LNP politicians acted as personal referees for Brisbane’s Gay and Lesbian Business Network. Originally QNews was to share equally the biggest beneficiary status with community run paper Star Observer, however an amended grant document shows that Star’s portion was more than cut in half, leaving Mackereth’s publication the front runner, benefiting the most from this government grant.
Despite his business enjoying advertising from grants, direct government contracts and taxpayer supported not-for-profits, Mr Mackereth has refused to comment on his involvement. It is also in the wake of revelations that Mr Mackereth’s QNews has allegedly overstated Q News’ publication figures, distribution and readership figures according to report in The Australian and Star Observer.
Separately because of advertisements run by QNews and contradictory posts on its website, questions have also been asked as to whether promised fundraising in aid of “suicide prevention” was actually diverted to a soccer club and regional Queensland community group.
Ray Mackereth or QNews appear to have started a petition on Change.org arguing “We have actively been involved in suicide prevention for over 10 years” which received a lacklustre response of 110 signatures to get the Queensland Reds to to an It’s Gets Better Campaign.
In 2011 QNews promised to share profits of an event “Carnivale”, where the publication marketed itself as the promoter under the heading of “QNews Presents”. While pre-event promises varied, they appeared to offer that profits from Carnivale would be split 50/50 between Brisbane Pride Festival and “suicide prevention” although no specific organisation was noted as the beneficiary.
Sources close to BPF confirm they received $4,108 as QNews boasted they had donated. However after a recent tip off to raymackereth.com that money was not ever disbursed to any suicide prevention charity or community group, Mr Mackereth was asked how the balance of the profits were allocated to “suicide prevention”.
Mr Mackereth has not answered any questions about how the funds were disbursed. QNews’ own pages appear contradictory about wheren the money went, where one month they say “all other proceeds” went to “youth suicide prevention” and the next month saying the money went to BPF, a soccer club and a regional Queensland group, implying that only the scraps, or perhaps none at all, went to an unnamed youth suicide body.
On 14 June 2011 QNews editor Toby Longhurst wrote a glowing review of his employer’s own event saying QNews financed and organised the one-off Carnivale:
“…which has acted not just as a stand in fair day but also as a fund-raiser to help Brisbane Pride Festival get back on its feet, as well as donating all other proceeds to youth suicide prevention.”
Mackereth himself was quoted in his editor’s article:
“QNews Publisher and Carnivale organiser Ray Mackereth, who worked with a team of enthusiastic volunteers, has long been a passionate advocate for youth suicide prevention and described the day as being of “significant importance”.”
However just one month later on 15 July 2011, a co-authored post by Big Brother graduate (and now Ministerial Advisory Committee member) David Graham and TV personality Peter Everett, suggested the money was handled differently with 100% going to “youth suicide prevention” indicating nothing to BPF.
“Brisbane Carnivale was a once off event organised by Q News and co-ordinated by Ray Mackereth after Brisbane Pride Festival fell into financial difficulties. Despite a substantial loss last year from BPF’s Fair Day, this year’s similar event managed to post a profit despite harshly cold and inclement weather that minimised numbers. 100% of profit that is set to top $10,000, is being donated to youth suicide prevention and the last amounts will be presented over the coming weeks to community beneficiaries.”
Later in the same article it appears a different version still as to who enjoyed the spoils from this event.
“The atmosphere in Perry Park was extremely vibrant, upbeat and celebratory. The soccer club at Perry Park who host many youth soccer carnivals and were flooded earlier this year also received a $5,000 donation from Brisbane Carnivale for use of their grounds.
A new Roma LGBT group not So Straight are also about to receive a $500.00 donation from Brisbane Carnivale with more donations to be announced soon. This takes the current donations to $9,608.00 to date and still more to be donated by QNews.”
Promises of a presentation to youth suicide support group do not appear to have ever been published and it is unclear if they occurred but if $9,608 of around $10,000 was paid out as reported, then 50/50 did not got to BPF and “suicide prevention” as was promised in pre-event marketing. Carnivale also received government assistance.
In related suggestions of exaggerated claims, QNews marketing tells its prospective customers it has “at least 50,000 readers are online” (and that figure expands to up to 150,000 per issue) and also says “QNews usually ranks in the TOP 500,000 WEBSITES in the WORLD & also in the top 15,000 WEBSITES IN AUSTRALIA” (sic).
An Alexa search, which RayMackereth.com understands to be the reference tool used by QNews online claims suggests a very different picture with a global ranking not even close to the the top one million world websites, limping in at 1,126,116. Similarly the Australian results suggest QNews are only in the top 48,568 most popular website meaning they are potentially tripling their actual performance to attract advertisers.
Mr Mackereth has not responded to how his company verifies this claim.
In a statement on Thursday to community radio Joy949, Mr Mackereth did not specify which allegations he was referring to, but said that things being said about him were “untrue”.
Mr Mackereth in August 2013 told a Brisbane community group committee that there was a “vendetta” against him and that the journalist had “mental issues” and telling others the journalist was “schizo”. He conceded to this community group that he has no intention of ever responding to the questions.