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Dreamworld defends safety record

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/10/2016 Stuart Layt

Dreamworld has defended its safety record, as the Queensland government is called on to revise workplace safety laws in the wake of the ride tragedy that killed four people.

The Safety Institute of Australia has urged calm and for people to give the authorities the time to properly conduct a full investigation.

"Those families deserve a full investigation, with findings based on facts and not on the wide-ranging speculation currently occurring amongst many commentators," chairman Patrick Murphy said in a statement.

Two women and two men died on Tuesday when a raft on the Thunder River Rapids ride overturned. A 10-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl survived.

Dreamworld said in a statement issued on Wednesday night that "park safety is our priority".

"Dreamworld would like to assure the public and our guests that at the time of the incident the park was fully compliant with all required safety certifications," it said.

Last month's testing included a mechanical and structural inspection by external engineering firm DRA Safety Specialists.

"Annual audits have resulted in continuous improvement in the management of safety," DRA managing director David Randall said in the statement.

But the AWU Queensland said it had raised concerns about other rides at the park as recently as three weeks ago, although the union had no concerns about the River Rapids ride previously.

Lawyer Alison Barrett, from Maurice Blackburn, said the law firm had been involved in a number of negligence actions against Dreamworld for injured guests or staff over a number of years.

"Any action founded in negligence generally always has poor safety as a common theme," she said in Brisbane.

"The investigation that Workplace Health and Safety is conducting will obviously reveal a lot more with respect to that."

WH&S is working with Queensland Police to conduct a full investigation to provide a report to the coroner.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts told AAP the coroner could make several recommendations to the government.

"Whether it's changes in legislation, changes in the way equipment is maintained, or is repaired, or its design," he said.

"What I would hope the government would start to do right now is to look at the licensing and the maintenance schedules of these rides so they are both transparent and stringent."

Mr Potts also said the tourist park industry needed to do some "serious soul-searching".

"I would hope that they would not merely pay lip service to assuring the public the rides are safe, but inform the public what steps are being taken in the wake of this tragedy."

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