THE current state of LGBTI media in Queensland is up in the air following the outcome of a court case involving QNews owner Ray Mackereth, who has recently filed for bankruptcy after being found guilty of “deliberate and… outrageous” contraventions under the Fair Work Act.
The case was brought forward by Brenton Larcombe, an employee of Mackereth’s former sex-on-premises venue Klub Kruise, who successfully sued Mackereth for compensation over non-payment of superannuation and other entitlements including annual leave.
[showads ad=MREC]Mackereth was found to have contravened the Fair Work Act “through non-payment of accrued by untaken annual leave and annual leave loading [and] no payment of superannuation entitlements”, in a ruling handed down by Judge Jarrett of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia on August 18 in Brisbane.
When delivering his adjudication Jarrett found that Mackereth singled out Larcombe for unfair treatment regarding finances.
“He was able to make proper arrangements for all of the other employees except this one. It is deliberate and it is outrageous,” Jarrett said.
“To treat an employee in that way is the antithesis of the policy of the Fair Work Act.”
It was also of Jarrett’s opinion that Mackereth showed no remorse for his unfair treatment of his former employee.
“There is no contrition exhibited by [Mackereth] at all. Indeed, he still takes the view that he has done nothing wrong,” he said.
“He took and acted on advice, no doubt, with a view to ensuring that what it was that he set about doing he could do with an air of legitimacy.”
Mackereth was ordered to pay Larcombe a total of around $15,000 within 28 days of the decision handed down by Jarrett but it is understood there has been no payment to date.
The future of QNews is now in doubt following a notice of bankruptcy filed by Mackereth on September 17, three days after the 28 day period.
QNews is one of two entities linked to Mackereth that are now under investigation by a public trustee for the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), with the other being the ongoing liquidation of Klub Kruise.
“Investigations are ongoing regarding [these entities] and we are waiting on information to come in order to proceed further,” the trustee told the Star Observer.
Mackereth is still believed to be acting as the vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association.
Speaking to the Star Observer, Larcombe’s partner David Hancock said the outcome of the case was a source of great relief.
“After virtually three years it’s a huge weight off Brenton’s shoulders to have a judgement in his favour,” Hancock said.
“To work for 10 years under one employer and have your hard-earned entitlements ripped from you is heart wrenching.
“To receive a [favourable judgement] is a massive validation especially after the stress he went through being self-represented against a legal team of a solicitor and a barrister.
“To have [Mackereth] described in such accurate terms and found guilty… I think is a victory, not just for Brenton, but for hard-working Aussies everywhere who have been ripped off by their employer.”
With recent sale of national LGBTI website SameSame to Evo Media, owners of Queensland Pride — as well as Sydney’s SX, Melbourne Community Voice and Adelaide’s Blaze — and the outcome of the AFSA investigation into QNews, what happens to the longterm LGBTI media landscape in Queensland remains uncertain.
Mackereth has been approached for comment.