Boycott Call Against Ray Mackereth’s Q News

This first appeared in Samesame.com.au on 24 Octoer 2012.

The owner of Queensland gay magazine QNews is facing a community-driven boycott campaign as suspicion about his involvement in the defunding of a local gay men’s health network intensifies.

Rumours have circulated for some time in the Brisbane LGBT community that Ray Mackereth met with key government officials to convince them that Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) did not deserve the millions it gets from the state. Then as Campbell Newman’s team swept into power earlier this year, QAHC’s funding was swiftly cut off, seemingly with little or no consultation with its stakeholders in the gay and HIV prevention communities, ostensibly as part of the new government’s controversial cost-cutting measures.

Concerned that Mackereth aimed to profit from QAHC’s demise, as the government’s new HIV awareness campaign is now advertising in QNews, the recently-created LGBT activism blog The Stirrer went public with the allegation yesterday, under the title ‘Gay Businessman Claims He Brought Down Queensland AIDS Council’.

The story, which quotes unnamed ‘well placed sources’ close to the situation, spread quickly via social networks to a mixture of responses yesterday. Its author was a previous contributor to QNews, who says he left the magazine as the QAHC situation developed.

Several commenters via social networks backed up the article’s central claim, saying Mackereth had “bragged” about his involvement in QAHC’s defunding. “He’s a traitor to our community,” read a typical comment, and it wasn’t long before a Boycott QNews Facebook page appeared.

Noticeably absent from the blog’s exposé is a reaction from Mackereth himself. Speaking to Same Same yesterday evening, he flatly denies all the allegations in the article, describing them as “completely untrue” and the work of “people with a vendetta” against him and his business. Last night he was even considering legal action, eager for the article to be taken down.

Mackereth’s lengthy statement now appears on the QNews website, in which he says he has always been a supporter of QAHC, and has never lobbied the government for its defunding.

“Let me state very clearly – not only are these allegations total nonsense, they are just plain wrong and downright offensive,” he reacts.

“We (at QNews) have long prided ourselves with the strong relationships we have built with Queensland’s LGBT community groups and I hope that we continue to do so.”

Our own GAY State of Origin

This story first appeared in Q News on 20 May 2012

OUR OWN GAY STATE OF ORIGIN

OUR OWN GAY STATE OF ORIGIN

Queensland is under threat with Sydney wanting to take over the stakes of gay media. In recent years, many mainstream independent publications have disappeared or been swallowed up by larger Sydney based companies. Gay media is no different and right now Queensland has the battle of its life to retain one of the last independent gay magazines in Australia. Sadly we do not have the large subsidies offered by Sydney and Melbourne businesses to help run magazines in Queensland, where business is hurting and still trying to recover from the devastation of floods, cyclones and the negative on-flow effect to tourism, mining and other major economic driving forces.

One Sydney gay paper recently offered advertisers free adverts to Queensland businesses to win over “all their advertising” to effectively try and wipe out QNews. Thankfully almost all those who tried advertsing with them have returned to QNews after receiving little or no response from their Sydney magazine advertising. A senior Queensland bureaucrat also pointed out that Queensland organisations funded by the Queensland Government could be in breach of state policy if they spent government funds in magazines that were not distributed predominately in Queensland unless they were targeting areas such as tourism, and that just one complaint to the CMC could see them liable to serious repercussions.

QNews is now proudly the only independent magazine servicing Queensland, based in Queensland and owned by Queensland, with 100% of resources churned back into our community. Whilst the bigger companies fight to try and seduce Queensland businesses and community groups, the Sydney based papers objectives are to simply take money from Queensland to feed back into their bottom line in Sydney. This means we have our own battle raging and QNews will not lay down.

Only QNews has an extensive reach into every part of our region, which includes the Northern Territory, Northern NSW and throughout Queensland, from the Gold Coast to Roma, to the far north of Port Douglas and most places in between. Unlike other magazines, QNews proudly delivers state-wide and invests $77,000 for regional delivery for less than $1,000 return annually, ensuring a printed gay magazine reaches all regional
areas. QNews understands the importance of servicing a state where more people live outside our capital city than in it, a state population distribution unique to only Queensland and Tasmania (who both have the highest suicide statistics).

QNews has also created community resource websites such as www.qgroups.com.au that supports over 120 groups and services & provides FREE connection with our community at large. QNews actively works with all levels of government to help improve our community. QNews is able to exist thanks to a team of people, some of whom have volunteered their efforts for over ten years, including doctors, lawyers, psychologists etc. They work hard to help make this part of the world a better place. 

Recently QNews was shocked to learn that after many years of support, some community groups have been seduced by “exclusive deals” with Sydney based magazines, a similar situation to the one that nearly caused the second financial collapse of Mardi Gras.  Exclusive deals mean they exclude QNews from being able to help or assist such groups. As an example, Brisbane Pride Festival (BPF) has been supported by QNews for many years, especially last year when they found themselves in financial difficulty. QNews provided BPF large amounts of free advertising and also staged a Fair Day Brisbane Carnivale, directing part of the profits back into BPF, with the rest being donated to youth suicide prevention.

Additionally, QNews sold the BPF guide that lead to a $7,000 cash donation to BPF. Immediately after the festival we wrote to BPF and congratulated them on their financial recovery and hard work, whilst also offering assistance with the 2012 festival, asking how we could offer our resources. QNews strongly urged BPF to associate with and seek support from all gay & straight media outlets, including QNews, to help re-build their brand and to avoid exclusive deals. We were told by inside sources BPF would do everything possible to help facilitate working with a Sydney based publication that portrays itself as a Queensland publication when it really only distributes a minimal amount of magazines Brisbane only. QNews was advised that we would have to tender to spend QNews resources to sponsor BPF and this would need done before Christmas, leaving only a few days. BPF got their way and now have an exclusive deal with a Sydney based publication. It is estimated that the new BPF gay newspaper sponsor distribute only 12% of their publication to Queensland.

The new BPF committee has also raised a few eyebrows when they decided to reject the offer of a free venue to host an event in June and instead chose to commit an estimated $10,000 to hire and fit out a venue instead. Further to this, QNews received complaints that BPF committee meetings have ostracised some of the more respected brains trust of the committee, causing them to resign. Their dwindling committee also has no active lesbian participation at all. QNews will revisit BPF next year and hope a new committee will bring new ideas energy to this long running festival. We also hope that BPF remains independent and is not taken over by another group or southern interests.

QNews offers support and substantial amounts of free and sponsorship to all community groups. We divide
the sponsorship up across our regions and are proud of many achievements thanks to the support of our team. We will remain fiercely independent and we also deliver excellent results for those people and companies who support us through advertising. So next time you support one of our advertisers, please remind them you found them in QNews.

We would like to say a big thank you to our readers for supporting QNews and allowing us to help around 200,000 GLBT Queenslanders, Northern NSW & NT people stay connected. We can assure you that your QNews is winning this State of Origin, as evidenced by the number of advertisers that have tried the new Sydney based newspaper and returned to QNews plus the support we have received from our readers. The true test
is that QNews continues to be the most popular printed gay press to be picked up and is 10 times more popular at some distribution points. Thank you Queensland!

FOOTNOTE: To set the record straight, QNews is a team of over 20 people who are mostly volunteers.  Although we operate as a business only a few staff are paid, only fair as it is their full time job. The owner of QNews does not draw a wage nor profits.  What we make gets pumped back into our community, with around 120 groups benefiting thanks to the generosity of our team.