The first police probe centres on $100,000 being skimmed from a QMM bank account in July 2019 by someone not involved with the museum and believed to be based interstate.
A New South Wales Police Force spokeswoman said detectives from Fairfield, in Sydney’s west, are looking for a 39-year-old man who used to live in the Sydney suburb of Mount Pritchard, hoping to question him in relation to the QMM fraud allegations.
A separate inquiry is being looked into by Brisbane detectives based in West End and involves a potential data breach from within the museum. It is believed to be a relatively recent incident.
The allegation is someone potentially took email addresses from the QMM database when they were not authorised to do so.
The Queensland Maritime Museum declined to comment due to the ongoing police investigations.
On Wednesday night, the QMM launched an online petition, in the hope of remaining open to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
The museum temporarily closed at the start of November and remains closed.
“No other maritime organisation the size of QMM exists without ongoing operational funding from the government,” the change.org petition read.
“The Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is federally funded. The West Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle is part of WA’s state-funded museum network. The South Australian Maritime Museum in Port Adelaide is state-funded.
“We believe QMM’s significant collection deserves the protection and conservation expertise of a world-class institution like Queensland Museum.
“QMM needs ongoing operational funding and significant investment to survive, and the expertise and innovation of Queensland Museum Network would ensure it became the world-class asset the people of Brisbane and Queensland deserve.”
QMM received $600,000 in state government funding from 2017 to 2019, as well as numerous other federal, state and local government grants during this time.
However, that funding finished just as COVID-19 forced QMM to close.
The pandemic severely affected the volunteer base, with about 40 of the 150 volunteers being COVID-19 “vulnerable” citizens who cannot be on-site, and its revenue flow cannot meet expenses.
Since QMM reopened in mid-September post-COVID, it has had 30 per cent of regular visitor numbers and had to bear the brunt of costly cleaning fees.
Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times