Dreamworld could face government prosecution after the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride in 2016
Embattled Queensland theme park Dreamworld could face government prosecution over the deaths of four people in a 2016 accident, a state investigation has found.
Government lawyers will be retained to analyse the report’s findings, before deciding whether to lay charges against Dreamworld’s owner Ardent Leisure.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace confirmed to the ABC on Saturday morning that there is a real ‘possibility of pending legal action’.
A malfunction in the mechanism of the Thunder River Rapids led to the collision of two rafts near a conveyor belt.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Araghi were killed in the incident on October 25, 2016.
It was determined by Queensland ambulance services that two victims were thrown from the ride, while two drowned after being trapped inside.
The ride has since been decommissioned, and will remain closed ‘until further notice’.
A malfunction in the mechanism of the Thunder River Rapids led to the collision of two rafts
The families of the victims have been advised that Dreamworld ‘could be found to have been at fault’, according to the Courier Mail.
When the father of Mr Araghi was asked whether he thought Dreamworld ought to be charged in relation to the death of his son, he said that he could not comment.
‘I don’t have enough information,’ Canberra resident Mr Behrooz Araghi said. ‘They’re considering further action…I know these things take a long time.’
Victims: Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Araghi
Flowers were laid at the site of the tragedy to remember the victims in October last year
The Workplace Health and Safety report into the tragedy report will not be publicly released, but will instead be handed to WHSQ prosecutions unit.
They will then ‘determine the legal consequences of the investigation and the next course of action’ – a process that will reportedly take several months to complete.
Meanwhile, Minister Grace moved last month to make ‘industrial manslaughter’ an offence in Queensland.
Minister Grace moved to make ‘industrial manslaughter’ an offence to avoid similar tradegies
‘Industrial manslaughter … is about not only the individual but the corporation, and that’s now going to be part of the Workplace Health and Safety Act with an independent prosecutor to ensure that the independence is maintained in cohort with the director of public prosecutions,’ she said.
While the legislation is expected to pass, it is too soon to tell whether or not it will be used in the Dreamworld case.
‘Under our proposed laws, the maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter will be 20 years imprisonment for an individual, with a maximum fine of $10 million for a corporate offender,’ Minister Grace said in a statement to the Guardian.
It is too soon to tell if legislation against ‘industrial manslaughter’ will be used in this case
‘Importantly, companies won’t be able to hide behind elaborate corporate structures to evade their responsibilities.’
She said families affected by workplace deaths could ‘take heart that individuals or companies responsible will be held to account under our laws.’
‘Our harsher penalties will serve as a deterrent to employers who are tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety in the workplace.’
Industrial Relations Minister Grace is targeting employers who are tempted to ‘cut corners’
Dreamworld has faced financial hardship in the wake of the tragedy, with visitors down by 1/3
Dreamworld has faced financial hardship in the wake of the tragedy, with ticket prices reduced by 50 per cent in an effort to draw back visitors.
Numbers were down more than 30 per cent in June 2017 when compared to the same period last year – a slight improvement on May’s figures, which revealed a 35 per cent drop.
However, acting chief executive Paul Callander is ‘buoyed’ by the latest figures, according to the ABC.
‘Month by month we are welcoming more visitors back to Dreamworld,’ said Dreamworld boss
‘Month by month we are welcoming more visitors back to Dreamworld,’ he said. ‘This school holiday period has been encouraging.’
Gold Coast Tourism is likewise optimistic, emphasising that theme park attendance is vital for the local economy.
Attractions such as the Wiggles concert in July are helping the park boost ticket sales.