Finance Work ‘Big question marks’ about Dreamworld safety

‘Big question marks’ about Dreamworld safety

David Turner and Shayne Goodchild, family of victims, plead for answers. Photo: AAP
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The Australian Workers Union is continuing to accuse Dreamworld of a “pattern of behaviour of resist, resist, resist” on matters of health and safety, despite the theme park criticising the comments as inappropriate.

Queensland Police detectives and workplace health and safety officers are investigating the Thunder River Rapids Ride, where four adults were killed and two children narrowly escaped injury.

Surviving family members have appealed for the cause of the “horrific” incident to be revealed.

awu ben swan
AWU official Ben Swan says Dreamworld ignored safety concerns. The park denies this. Photo: Sky News

To assist police, the AWU is compiling a dossier covering years of safety disputes with Dreamworld management.

The New Daily has seen parts of the dossier, which include a copy of a failed inspection of the Rapids Ride in 2012 conducted by an independent auditor. That document is attached below.

AWU Queensland secretary Ben Swan accused Dreamworld of “organisational arrogance” for refusing to cooperate with the union on safety since November 2014.

“I’m starting to get really angry about this institutional, organisational arrogance. There are big question marks about their behaviour and attitudes,” Mr Swan told The New Daily.

The union official said he had a “deep-seated suspicion” the theme park was ignoring manufacturer standards on its rides. For example, he said the Cyclone ride was operated by one employee, despite the manufacturer’s recommendation of at least two, preferably three or more.

During the Ardent Leisure annual general meeting on Thursday morning, a shareholder asked chairman Neil Balnaves to address the concerns raised by the AWU.

Mr Balnaves did not. Elsewhere that day, he said the park’s safety was “world’s best practice” and that Dreamworld “has a strong safety culture and this is of paramount importance to the board”.

In a statement, Dreamworld said it was “concerned about the timing and nature of recent AWU media comments”, and adamantly defended its safety record.

Every ride was tested each morning and complied with all safety standards, the park said.

Thunder River Rapids passed its annual safety audit, conducted by an independent engineering firm, on September 29, four weeks before the incident, the park said.

Luke Dorsett, his sister Kate Goodchild, his partner Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low died on the River Rapids Ride. Photos: AAP
Luke Dorsett (top left), his sister Kate Goodchild, his partner Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low died on the River Rapids Ride. Photos: AAP

“Dreamworld would like to assure the public and our guests that at the time of the incident the park was fully compliant with all required safety certifications.”

Shayne Goodchild, father and friend to three of the victims, said he wanted to know what happened.

“Like everyone in Australia, we want to know what went wrong. We want to know why our loved ones were taken from us in such horrific circumstances,” he told a press conference on Friday.

Mr Goodchild lost his daughter Kate Goodchild, 32, son Luke Dorsett, 35, and Luke’s partner Roozbeh ‘Roozi’ Araghi, 38, in the tragedy.

He described his daughter as an “amazing” mother, and said Luke and Roozi were a “truly inspirational couple to everyone who had the good fortune of knowing them”.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the fatal accident could trigger reform to workplace health and safety regulations for theme parks.

dreamworld family david turner shayne goodchild
Shayne Goodchild read a statement on Friday, supported by his daughter’s partner David Turner. Photo: AAP

“We never want to see anything like this happen again,” Ms Palaszczuk told ABC radio on Friday.

“We need public confidence back in our tourist theme parks that things will operate the way they are supposed to operate.”

Law firm Maurice Blackburn has received a flood of calls about the theme park and is collating a record of patrons wanting to record their own bad experiences on Dreamworld rides.

“A wide variety of people have called. People who have been directly involved, people who have been witnesses, people who weren’t even there but have a story to tell,” the firm’s personal injury principal Alison Barrett told AAP.

The Safety Institute of Australia urged calm and for people to give authorities the time to properly conduct a full investigation.

“Those families deserve a full investigation, with findings based on facts and not on the wide-ranging speculation currently occurring amongst many commentators,” chairman Patrick Murphy said in a statement on Thursday.

Under-fire Ardent Leisure CEO Deborah Thomas issued a tearful apology to the families of victims during a visit to a shrine at the park on Friday.

Read the 2012 failed safety inspection of the Rapids Ride:

Read the full safety statement from Dreamworld:

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