Dreamworld owner to front court over 2016 tragedy

Queensland prosecutors have confirmed that Dreamworld parent company Ardent Leisure is listed to front a magistrate next week on charges over the deaths almost four years ago of four people on the theme park’s Thunder River Rapids Ride.

Work Health and Safety Prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle said three charges carrying total fines of up to $4.5 million had been laid against Ardent Leisure over the October 2016 tragedy.

Mr Guilfoyle, in a written statement, said Dreamworld’s owner had been charged with offences under Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to comply with its health and safety duty under the Act and exposing individuals to a risk of serious injury or death.

“Each of the three charges allege the company failed to comply with its primary safety duty under s19(2) of the Act,” he said. “It is alleged Ardent Leisure failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable…the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures; provision and maintenance of safe systems of work; and the provision of information, training, instruction or supervision that was necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

“The maximum penalty is a fine of $4.5 million, with each charge carrying a maximum penalty of a $1.5 million fine.”

Mr Guilfoyle confirmed that he did not propose to lay any further charges in the matter.

The referral of a brief of evidence to the prosecutor by the Office of Industrial Relations followed the release by Coroner James MacDougall in February this year of his findings from an inquest into the tragedy.

The charges against Ardent Leisure will be mentioned in the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday (July 29) next week.

The Dreamworld tragedy and subsequent coronial inquest resulted in Queensland legislation creating the new offence of industrial manslaughter in October 2017.

As the legislation was enacted after the Dreamworld incident and was not made retrospective, Ardent Leisure has not been charged under that legislation.

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