Parent company of theme park Dreamworld, Ardent Leisure is facing three charges and fines of up to $4.6 million for the deaths of four patrons in a 2016 accident.
In a letter to the Australian Stock Exchange, Dreamworld’s parent-company, Ardent Leisure said that it is facing three charges under the Work Health and Safety Act in the Brisbane Magistrates court.
If found guilty, Ardent Leisure faces up to $1.5 million for each charge.
The Office of Workplace Health and Safety alleges that Ardent Leisure failed to meet its health and safety obligations, and exposed “individuals to a risk of serious injury or death.”
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The Coroner says there was a “total failure” on the part of Dreamworld to keep its patrons safe on the Thunder River Rapids ride.
It’s alleged that Ardent Leisure “failed to provide safe plant and structures, safe systems of work or information, training, instruction and supervision to protect all persons from risk to their health and safety,” according to a report from Jeremy Pierce.
In his report, the Coroner said that Dreamworld’s safety systems and maintenance routines were “frighteningly unsophisticated” and described them as “rudimentary at best.”
While reading his verdict, Coroner James McDougal criticised Dreamworld and its parent company Ardent Leisure for a “systemic failure”, “shoddy record-keeping” and “frighteningly unsophisticated” safety systems that failed to protect patrons.
McDougal added that it is “reasonably suspected that Ardent Leisure may have committed an offence under workplace law,” referring his conclusion to the Office of Industrial Relations which will choose whether or not to prosecute.
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In 2016, Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozie Araghi died while riding the Thunder River Rapids when a water pump malfunctioned, and caused two rafts to collide.
An investigation was launched into the deaths and concluded in December of 2018 when witnesses from Dreamworld’s staff and emergency service workers were called to testify.
The findings of the 300-page report were released in February of this year, with the report referred to the Office of Workplace Health & Safety.
In a letter to the ASX, the Ardent Leisure Group said that “there has been considerable change at Dreamworld over the last few years, as was acknowledged by the Coroner in his Report.”
“Dreamworld has taken substantive and proactive steps to improve safety across the entire park and continues to enhance existing systems and practices, as well as adopt new ones, as we develop and implement our safety case in accordance with the Queensland government’s new major amusement park safety regulations.”
“The new leadership team is committed to continuing to improve and enhance safety systems and practices with the aim of becoming a global industry leader in theme park safety and operations,” the statement read.
It’s expected that the Ardent Leisure case will be heard in the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday July 29.