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Experienced cop to lead Dreamworld healing

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/10/2016 Jamie McKinnell

One of Queensland's most experienced natural disaster recovery experts will steer a healing process and aim to restore international trust in Dreamworld following the theme park's fatal ride tragedy.

Mike McKay, a retired inspector with more than four decades of experience in the state's police service, on Sunday acknowledged the long road ahead.

"What I'm doing at the moment is getting my head around the logistics of this tragedy," he said at the Gold Coast park's entrance, where a huge collection of bouquets continued to grow.

Mr McKay has already been in touch with relatives of the victims - Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett, his partner Roozi Araghi and Sydney woman Cindy Low - but said park staff would also need help.

"They're suffering and I've been brought in to look at the holistic approach as to how we can best get things back to some normalcy at some stage."

Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson said Mr McKay would develop a "comprehensive community engagement and recovery program", working to rebuild trust.

"There is no more qualified person than Mike to help us with this process," he said.

The appointment, which came at the personal recommendation of Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, follows criticism of the way Dreamworld's parent company Ardent Leisure handled the fallout from the tragedy.

Initial plans to reopen the park on Saturday were postponed and police remain at the scene of the accident, the Thunder River Rapids ride.

Mr McKay, who accepted the position "in a heartbeat", has helped residents of the Lockyer Valley after the 2011 flood disaster and far north Queensland after Cyclone Larry in 2006.

He saw little difference between natural disasters and last Tuesday's horrific ride malfunction.

"It is the death of a soul," he said.

"What we need to do is ensure, without a doubt, that something like this doesn't happen again."

Mr McKay believed community support for the park was already strong, but the restoration of trust was a key long-term goal.

"We appreciate that we need to show the world - and it is an international situation - that this is going to be a safe, happy and comfortable place for them to come back to."

On Saturday, workplace inspectors started a statewide safety blitz on Queensland's theme parks at the venue.

Mr Davidson said the company continued to co-operate with the investigation.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was reassuring Ardent Leisure had appointed Mr McKay, who had "tremendous experience".

She also said the safety blitz on Queensland's theme parks and shows would be important in ensuring all rides were audited and up to standard.

"We need to make sure that families have the confidence to continue to go to amusement parks," she said.

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