$3 mil in fines and jail time possible for Dreamworld’s parent company

Ardent Leisure—Dreamworld’s parent company—could be fined $3 million and the company’s leadership could face jail time after a coroner’s inquest found the theme park’s safety systems were “frighteningly unsophisticated.”

Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi were tragically killed while after the park’s Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned in 2016.

Queensland south-eastern coroner James McDougall said that “shoddy record-keeping” and a lack of risk assessments by professionals resulted in a “systemic failure by Dreamworld in relation to all aspects of safety.”

The coroner found there was no evidence a risk assessment of the ride was ever conducted, which made the accident a “matter of time.”

Four people were killed after a pump malfunctioned on the Thunder River Rapids ride (pictured above) in 2016. Image: Creative Commons.

McDougall added that the park’s management placed a “significant and unfair” burden on ride operators to report and respond to safety problems.

McDougall referred the company to the Office of Industrial Relations make a judgement on the case, after suspicion Ardent Leisure “may have committed an offence under workplace law.”

“It depends on the category, whether it is seen as reckless or serious breaches, but [penalties] range from a maximum of $1.5 million to $3 million [in] fines, as well as for individuals up to about $600,000 and possible jail as well,” McDougall said.

“Such a culpable culture can exist only when leadership from the board down are careless in respect of safety.”

Ardent Leisure Chairman Gary Weiss, who was appointed in 2017 (post-accident), said the park is committed to implementing the changes recommended by the coroner, and that safety was Ardent Leisure’s number one priority.

“The coroner’s report does not mark the beginning of change at Dreamworld, but rather represents a very important milestone in a continuous improvement journey for safety at Dreamworld that is ongoing,” Weiss said.

The ride has since been removed from the park and a memorial garden has been earmarked for construction.

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