Ardent Leisure Limited has been fined $3.6 million over the Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy at Dreamworld on 25 October 2016, when four people lost their lives.
The company pleaded guilty to three offences under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for breaching its primary safety duty to ensure that the health and safety of members of the public were not put at risk.
Work Health and Safety Prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle said the record penalty would give the victims’ families some sense that justice had been served, but said he was conscious that no penalty could account for their profound loss.
“The penalty imposed reflects the seriousness of the conduct of Ardent Leisure and the tragic consequences which flowed from it,” Mr Guilfoyle said.
In sentencing, Magistrate Pamela Dowse observed the “blind trust” that patrons had placed in the famous amusement park when they rode the Thunder River Rapids Ride.
“Those guests were vulnerable,” Magistrate Dowse said.
“The failures of [Ardent Leisure] were not momentary and did not occur on the day of the incident. They were failures well before then, which led to what ultimately transpired.
“[Ardent Leisure] was aware of the risk of failure of the administrative controls, but continued to rely too heavily upon them, notwithstanding that, in most of the previous investigations into incidents on the ride, the primary cause was attributed to operator error in failing to follow operation procedures.
“In some instances, reasonably practicable control measures which would have reduced the risk were identified, but not implemented.
“[Ardent Leisure] failed to appreciate the increased risk in not doing so.”