Dreamworld potential fines ‘not bloody good enough’

 

FAMILIES of the victims of the Dreamworld Thunder River Rapids disaster have hit out at 'a slap across the knuckles' for the theme park after prosecutors laid charges which could lead to fines totalling $4.5 million.

Five months since the scathing findings of a coronial inquest in to the tragedy, Work Health and Safety prosecutors on Tuesday slapped three negligence charges against Dreamworld's parent company Ardent Leisure over the 2016 deaths of Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low.

The case will go to court next week, but no executives of Dreamworld or Ardent, either past or present, were charged, meaning the maximum penalty if found guilty will be a $4.5 million fine.

Dreamworld has already paid out millions of dollars in compensation claims to those caught up in the tragedy, but those costs have been borne by company insurers.

Authorities investigating the tragedy on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride. Picture: Dan Peled
Authorities investigating the tragedy on Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids ride. Picture: Dan Peled

Melissa O'Neill from Shine Lawyers, which is acting for more than a dozen people caught up in the terrifying ordeal said the witnesses, first responders and former Dreamworld staffers devastated by the tragedy did not believe the penalties would go far enough.

""We're talking about a maximum of $4.5 million for four lives," she said.

"What price a life?

"They would really like to see some tougher penalties."

The maximum fines are set in legislation and tough industrial manslaughter laws introduced in the wake of the tragedy cannot be applied retrospectively.

Cindy Low's brother Michael Cook, who travelled from New Zealand to make an emotional address on the day of the inquest findings, said he was disgusted by the way the case had played out.

"I'm fuming," he said.

"(It's) a slap across the knuckles for them and a lifetime of pain and loss for us.

"Where is the accountability? Not bloody good enough."

 

Kim Dorsett, mother of victims Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen
Kim Dorsett, mother of victims Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

 

Kim Dorsett, whose children Kate and Luke died in the tragedy along with Luke's partner Roozi, said the potential fines if the company were found guilty would not restore the lost lives.

would not restore the lost lives.

It's four people who lost their lives, and four point whatever million dollars doesn't change that fact or give those children (of Kate Goodchild and Cindy Low) back their mothers," she said.

"It doesn't change the daily problems in trying to get through each day … each birthday, anniversary, Mother's Day, Christmas … that goes on forever.

"Hopefully, the company will plead guilty and they'll be held accountable."

 

Dreamworld victims Kate Goodchild Luke Dorsett Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low. Pictures: Supplied
Dreamworld victims Kate Goodchild Luke Dorsett Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low. Pictures: Supplied

 

The charges could be finalised as early as next week if the theme park operator makes an early guilty plea.

Sources close to the inquest suggest plea negotiations have taken place between lawyers in an effort to bring the sorry saga to a close, with no charges laid against individuals.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act, individuals face penalties of up to five years' jail and $300,000 fines for recklessly endangering a person to risk of death or serious injury while corporations face $3 million fines.

However, Ardent has been charged with the lesser offence of failing to comply with a health and safety duty that exposes a person to risk of death, serious injury or illness.

In a statement, Ardent chairman Gary Weiss said his thoughts remained with the family and friends of the victims for 'their ongoing loss and suffering'.

 

"Dreamworld has taken substantive and proactive steps to improve safety across the entire park and continues to enhance existing systems and practices, as well as adopt new ones," he said.

"The new leadership team is committed to continuing to improve and enhance safety

systems and practices with the aim of becoming a global industry leader in theme park

safety and operations."

Originally published as Dreamworld potential fines 'not bloody good enough'



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