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Inquest hears that Dreamworld cut back maintenance in months before 2016 ride fatalities

Inquest hears that Dreamworld cut back maintenance in months before 2016 ride fatalities
June 26, 2018

The Coronial inquest into the deaths of four people on a popular ride at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld has heard that cutbacks in repairs and maintenance were ordered seven months prior to the fatalities.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low were killed when two rafts collided on Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride in October 2016.

In the witness box on Monday, Dreamworld's Safety Manager at the time, Mark Thompson, was shown minutes from an engineering team management meeting in March 2016 - the same month he was hired.

The document stated the monthly expenditure was $125,000 over budget on a year-to-date basis, reading “revenue is up but profit is down, cutbacks are now being enforced.

"Repairs and maintenance spending needs to stop, only CAPEX (capital expenditure)."

Thompson told the inquest there was an "archaic system" of computer files to manage and sort through when he began working at Dreamworld, advising “I spent a long time going through them. I was never given any direction to conduct risk assessments with human components.”

He also advised that he needed the support of a team of six people to help manage workplace health and safety at Dreamworld, stating “there was only one of me … it made it hard for me to do proactive work when I was putting out forest fires.”

Thompson said he reported the concerns to his superior but was told there were "financial constraints" and Dreamworld had "always done it that way".

The Coroner's Court heard that while a dedicated team of six safety professionals was employed in early 2017, after the fatalities on the Thunder River Rapids, but that prior to that Dreamworld's workplace health and policy procedure had not been updated in six years.

The inquest heard that the Thunder River Rapids ride's registration was due to expire in January 2016, but the company sought and was granted two extensions by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).

An email from Thompson to WHSQ dated September 2016 said the park was having difficulty finding a "competent person" to inspect its so-called big nine thrill rides.

Thompson faced cross examination by defence barrister Matthew Hickey, representing Cindy Low's family.

Thompson was shown the theme park's first aid policy on the Thunder River Rapids ride, from which a warning advising that rafts could flip had been deleted.

The warning stated “the rafts are very heavy and there is a lot of underwater obstacles that could cause the rafts to flip or entrap a guest.”

Thompson said he was never informed when he began his role that rafts had previous collided and flipped on the ride.

He told Hickey that Dreamworld management were more focused on new attractions than on existing amusements, leading the barrister to ask "familiarity had bred contempt with the Thunder River Rapids ride?"

Thompson replied "yes."

The Queensland Government ordered a safety audit of all theme park rides in the wake of the Dreamworld tragedy.

Image: The Thunder River Rapids ride prior to October 2016. 

25th June 2018 - INQUEST EVIDENCE CAUSING ‘IRRETRIEVABLE’ DAMAGE TO DREAMWORLD’S REPUTATION

23rd June 2018 - VICTIMS’ FAMILY ‘DEVASTATED AND HORRIFIED’ BY EVIDENCE AT DREAMWORLD INQUEST

18th June 2018  - CORONIAL INQUEST BEGINS INTO 2016 DREAMWORLD FATALITIES

13th June 2018 - CHINESE WATERPARK BOOSTS VILLAGE ROADSHOW PERFORMANCE: ARDENT COMPLETES BOWLING DIVISION SALE

3rd April 2018 - VICTIMS OF DREAMWORLD RIDE ‘DIED ALMOST INSTANTLY’

11th March 2018 - DREAMWORLD DEMOLISHES THUNDER RIVER RAPIDS RIDE

18th February 2018 - ARDENT LEISURE CHAIRMAN EXCITED BY DREAMWORLD’S PROSPECTS THROUGH 2018 

2nd February 2018 - ARDENT LEISURE REPORTS SLOWER THAN EXPECTED GROWTH IN DREAMWORLD VISITATION

25th January 2018 - DREAMWORLD REOPENS POPULAR WATER RIDE 

20th December 2017 - ARDENT LEISURE SELLS BOWLING CENTRES DIVISION FOR $160 MILLION

9th November 2017 - ARDENT LEISURE CHIEF EXECUTIVE SIMON KELLY TO LEAVE AFTER JUST FOUR MONTHS IN ROLE

9th November 2017 - DREAMWORLD REJECTS CRITICISM OF ANIMAL CARE AT TIGER ISLAND ATTRACTION

26th October 2017 - DREAMWORLD MARKS RIDE TRAGEDY ANNIVERSARY WITH QUIET STAFF COMMEMORATION

21st October 2017 - QUEENSLAND POLICE SAY NO STAFF SHOULD BE PROSECUTED OVER 2016 DREAMWORLD DEATHS 

16th October 2017 - QUEENSLAND PARLIAMENT PASSES INDUSTRIAL MANSLAUGHTER LAWS IN WAKE OF DREAMWORLD FATALITIES 

27th August 2017 - DREAMWORLD TRAGEDY HIGHLIGHTS LEGAL DUTY OF CARE FOR THEME PARK GUESTS

23rd August 2017 - QUEENSLAND TO IMPLEMENT NEW SAFETY LAWS FOLLOWING DREAMWORLD TRAGEDY REPORT

11th July 2017 - DREAMWORLD BATTLES INCONSISTENT ATTENDANCES AND FALLING REVENUES

30th June 2017 - DREAMWORLD LAUNCHES AFTER DARK THRILL EXPERIENCE 

24th May 2017 - ARDENT LOOKS TO QUASH DREAMWORLD SALE RUMOURS, EXPLORES SITE REZONING PLAN

9th May 2017 - DREAMWORLD SUFFERS FURTHER ATTENDANCE AND REVENUE SLUMP 

16th April 2017 - CONSULTING ENGINEER REBUTS AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY RIDE SAFETY ‘INVESTIGATION’

4th April 2017 - ARDENT LEISURE CHIEF EXECUTIVE ‘APPEARED TO BE DUCKING FOR COVER’ FOLLOWING DREAMWORLD FATALITIES 

13th March 2017 - PARKZ WEBSITE LAUNCHES SUPPORT OUR THEME PARKS CAMPAIGN 

16th January 2017 - PERCEPTION OF SAFETY AND SECURITY BOOST AUSTRALIA’S INTERNATIONAL TOURISM GROWTH 

10th December 2016 - GUESTS TRICKLE BACK AS DREAMWORLD REOPENS 

29th October 2016 - QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT TO UNDERTAKE ‘SAFETY BLITZ’ ON THEME PARKS


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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