Community grants awarded to Queensland cult

Almost $60,000 in Queensland community grants have been given to organisations linked to followers of a controversial cult leader.

The Courier-Mail has learned $10,000 from the Queensland 150th birthday celebrations fund was handed to an organisation linked to followers of the Magnificat Meal Movement founded by Debra Geileskey.

Ms Geileskey, now believed to be living in the US, persuaded cult members to donate millions to build a planned $45 million basilica. It was never built.

Nationals Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss has called for an audit into more than $50,000 in state grants allocated to “community organisations” he suspected were run by MMM in the Helidon area, west of Brisbane.

Mr Rickuss said records also showed $45,000 from the state Gambling Community Benefit Fund was paid to the groups.

“I have bona fide groups – schools, church groups and youth groups – that missed out,” he said.

He feared the organisations’ fundraising activities might have benefited Ms Geileskey, who sold her million-dollar rural retreat and three luxury cars before moving to the US.

“We would hate to think this Government’s funds are also going to support Debra Geileskey’s lifestyle,” Mr Rickuss said.

None of the groups, which listed their addresses as PO boxes outside Helidon, approached Mr Rickuss for references before applying for the grants.

“Most of the groups that get grants invite me to either open them or to see them in operation. That hasn’t happened (in this case),” Mr Rickuss said.

The organisations believed headed by cult followers included the Helidon Sports and Recreation Association, Tabletop Junior Arts and Craft Club, Southeast Queensland Junior Astronomers and the Helidon Celtic Historical Society. Some are on a website, registered to cult follower Clare Birchley.

Helidon residents said the groups did not post their meetings on community bulletin boards.

Tabletop Junior Art and Craft Club president Susan Lindsay admitted she was a MMM supporter, but said that had nothing to do with the club’s activities.

“We have nothing to do with Magnificat Meal Movement and nothing do with Clare Birchley,” she said.

Astronomy group leader Laurence Cameron denied knowledge of MMM but Mr Rickuss and a respected local resident, who declined to be named, believed the group was linked to MMM.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Tuck Thompson, The Courier-Mail, June 16, 2008,

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday June 15, 2008.
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