Dreamworld still under a cloud three months after Coroner’s damning report

Queensland theme parks will eventually reopen, maybe at the end of the school holidays, but Dreamworld will never be the same again.

May 22, 2020, updated May 22, 2020
Dreamworld is still defending its actions prior to the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids Ride.

Dreamworld is still defending its actions prior to the deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids Ride.

When Tourism Minister Kate Jones rose in parliament this week to announce another $50 million support package, she made a point of mentioning not only the sector generally but also “our iconic theme parks and animal parks”.

“We want them to get through this and survive and come out at the other end stronger, more resilient and able to continue to make their critical contribution to Queensland,” Jones said.

However, one theme park, Dreamworld, was in trouble before the pandemic and remains under a legal and financial cloud.

In February, Coroner James McDougall handed down scathing findings into maintenance and safety procedures at Dreamworld after the Thunder River Rapids tragedy.

Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi died in October 2016 when a water pump on the ride malfunctioned.

McDougall recommended Ardent Leisure, which owns Dreamworld, be referred to the Office of Industrial Relations for possible prosecution under workplace laws.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Industrial Relations told InQueensland the investigation was continuing.

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“Queensland’s independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, Aaron Guilfoyle, continues to assess an extensive brief of evidence and is yet to determine whether or not to commence a prosecution under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in respect of the Dreamworld tragedy,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

A Dreamworld spokesman could not be contacted. All non-essential maintenance and upgrades at the theme park have been cancelled and owner Ardent Leisure’s share price has been hit hard this year.

Jones said Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) was preparing a domestic tourism campaign to launch in early June, ahead of the school holidays.

The government’s roadmap for lifting restrictions would, at the earliest, only allow “outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades” to reopen from the last weekend of the school holidays – and subject to a 100-person limit. Further negotiations are expected to fine-tune those arrangements as the Government encourages Queenslanders to holiday in Queensland.

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