News State QLD News Dreamworld warned on safety and maintenance last year: union

Dreamworld warned on safety and maintenance last year: union

Four people died when a raft on the Thunder River Rapids ride flipped. Photo: AAP
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An Australian Workers Union (AWU) official has said they expressed concerns early last year about safety and maintenance at the Gold Coast theme park where four people died yesterday.

Dreamworld will remain closed today as the theme park’s management and authorities continue to investigate the fatal accident on the 30-year-old Thunder River Rapids ride.

Police forensic investigators remained at the scene of the accident late into the night and Inspector Tod Reid said a coronial investigation was underway.

Authorities believe a 42-year-old woman, a 38-year-old man, a 35-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman died when two rafts on the ride hit one another and one raft tipped over.

AWU Queensland secretary Ben Swan said he did not want to inflame the current situation and the union’s concerns did not involve the same ride.

“I think people’s priorities should rightly be on taking care of the situation that immediately exists and looking after the people that have been involved in that, but we did hold some very grave concerns about safety of equipment and the operation of equipment at that site,” he said.

Mr Swan said the AWU lodged a complaint about safety 18 months ago with park owner Ardent Leisure after a separate industrial incident.

What we know about the ride:

  • Thunder River Rapids has been operating since 1986
  • Dreamworld describes it as a “moderate thrill”
  • Up to six people travel in circular rafts on large rubber tyres in rapid-flowing water
  • Park rules specify riders must be at least 120cm tall
  • It is regarded as a family-friendly ride

He said the union became increasingly concerned about safety at Dreamworld as it investigated that incident.

“We’ve expressed those concerns directly to the company,” he said.

“We made an application under right to information laws seeking the release of particular information from the division of Workplace Health and Safety, but that was opposed by the company.”

Mr Swan said a decision handed down last year meant the union did not gain access to the information it sought from Ardent Leisure.

“It’s not our intention to make any sort of comment that could be construed in a way that is insensitive to what has just happened, which is a very tragic event,” he said.

“However we do think that in the interests of workers at that facility, but also to the patrons of that facility, people who visit it for an enjoyable experience, that it is important there is a full inquiry.”


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