New laws after Dreamworld tragedy

Christine Flatley
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New laws will be introduced in Queensland following last year's Dreamworld ride disaster.

New laws will be introduced in Queensland following last year's Dreamworld ride disaster.

Queensland theme park owners and show ride operators will face some of the toughest penalties in the country for flouting safety rules under proposed industrial manslaughter laws.

Lawyers believe the prospect of 20 years behind bars and a $10 million fine might be just the key to preventing tragedies like last year's Dreamworld disaster in which four people died when the ageing Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned.

The government has flagged the new laws - which would make Queensland the second state or territory after the ACT to make industrial manslaughter a stand-alone offence - after a review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) regulations.

The review revealed gaping holes in safety regulations for amusement rides, some of which were more than 30 years old, with poor training, insufficient maintenance and inadequate inspections earmarked for urgent attention.

It found forklift drivers required more specialist training than those entrusted to operate some of the most extreme rides, and that rides at theme parks, shows and fetes also required less stringent inspections than cranes.

Rod Hodgson from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said the changes to the law would improve safety and was exactly the shake-up business owners needed.

"There has been far too much lip service paid to safety," he told AAP.

"There is a cohort of business owners that say we're going to cut corners in the name of a dollar... and this legislation should be a wake up call to that cohort.

"There is certainly plenty of evidence out there that the Dreamworld owners didn't do all that ought to be done to manage safety in the workplace.

"Tourists and general members of the community, as well as employees, are entitled to expect that the workplace that they visit operates safely," he said.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the government would implement all of the 58 recommendations in the review, giving the public more confidence in the amusement industry.

"Our harsher penalties will serve as a deterrent to employers who are tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety in the workplace," she said.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls welcomed the changes, but sounded a note of caution.

"We don't want to see the rides that we all enjoy, and my kids enjoy at fairs and the Ekka made so stringent that there's no rides available," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"But certainly there's action that needs to be taken in light of the tragedy at Dreamworld."

The police investigation into the deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghiat at Dreamworld is almost completed, and an inquest is yet to be held.