The Queensland Government is launching a “safety blitz” audit of the state’s theme parks, beginning at Dreamworld where four people died earlier this week.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Araghi died when a raft flipped over on the Thunder River Rapids on Tuesday afternoon.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also announced an audit of all Workplace Health and Safety processes.
Speaking at the ALP state conference on the Gold Coast this morning, she said the audit was in response to the deaths of two workers at an Eagle Farm racecourse worksite earlier this month.
“It is simply not enough for us to be compliant with our current laws, we need to be sure our laws keep pace with international research and new technologies,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The audit will also consider whether existing penalties are sufficient to act as deterrents, and whether these should be strengthened to contain provisions relating to gross negligence causing death.
“Because we all know how important workplace safety is and how important it is to have strong deterrents.
“That’s why Queensland has the best record in Australia at prosecuting employers for negligence – and we are now examining current regulations to see if there are any further measures we can take to discourage unsafe practices.”
‘Whole of Australia feels sympathy’: Bill Shorten
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten visited Dreamworld this morning to pay his respects.
“That such a place of happiness and fond memories was the scene of such a nightmare for a few people, it’s just, the whole of Australia feels sympathy,” he said.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said urgent action was required to ensure the safety of theme park visitors.
She said specialist inspectors and engineers would examine all rides and maintenance records at all theme parks, including Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild, Sea World and Movie World on the Gold Coast, along with Aussie World and Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.
The audits are expected to be completed by the end of November.
“They’ll be looking at records inspection, maintenance and repair and manufacturer documentation in our theme parks,” Ms Grace said.
“Ride operator training and procedure records, along with controls and processes for taking out and returning equipment to service will also come under the spotlight in these safety audits.
“This is about protecting visitors to our theme parks and restoring public confidence in Queensland’s prime tourism assets ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season.”
Ardent Leisure CEO Deborah Thomas yesterday held a private ceremony with staff at the theme park to remember those who died.
Dreamworld will remain closed until after funerals have been held.
Safety audit ‘should have happened earlier’
Australian Workers Union state secretary Ben Swan said the safety blitz should have been conducted before the tragic incident at Dreamworld.
He said he would ask the Government when a safety audit had last occurred.
“It may well be the case over the course of the coming days and weeks that I have an opportunity to speak with people within the department, if not the Minister, to get a better appreciation of this, and I can ask for those details at that appropriate time,” he said.
“When it comes to safety, whether it’s members of the public or workers in these sorts of environments, you have to be perpetually vigilant, not just after a catastrophic episodes.
“You have to maintain a heightened state of awareness at all times with regards to safety.”
‘Livelihoods depend on theme parks staying open’
Federal Trade Minister and local MP Steve Ciobo urged tourists not to abandon Dreamworld after the tragic deaths.
Mr Ciobo told Channel Seven he felt for the families of the victims, but also those employed by the theme park.
“Obviously, the heaviest burden is carried by those who have lost loved ones,” he said.
“But what we also need to be mindful of is that that there are of course a lot of families whose livelihoods, whose ability to pay the mortgage, is dependent upon having ongoing secure work.”