Dreamworld cancels 'memorial day' reopening after police talks

Dreamworld has cancelled plans for a controversial memorial day just three days after four people died in horrific circumstances at the park.

Just hours before it was due to throw open its doors to the public tomorrow morning, the theme park called off the reopening after talks with police.

"Dreamworld has been advised by Queensland Police Services (QPS) that we are unable to proceed with tomorrow's memorial service as planned," the firm said in a statement.

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"Obviously the integrity of the Coronial Investigation is of paramount importance and postponing the service will give QPS the time it needs to conduct this investigation.

"We will provide an update to the media on Monday with regard to the memorial service and re-opening of the Park."

Police, who are still carrying out an investigation at the crime scene, cast doubt over the plans to reopen to workers and the public tomorrow.

Neil Balnaves, CEO of Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure, this morning announced at the firm's AGM that the park would reopen following 24 hours of deliberation. He said it was "better that people get back to work", and that plans were driven by the "utmost respect" for the families, adding: "We can't return the four lives."

But Queensland Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd this afternoon threw plans into doubt, saying he was concerned the reopening might cause security issues for officers' work at Thunder River Rapids.

"We are not going to compromise the speed or thoroughness in order for us to vacate the area and acquire the evidence or facts we need," he said "Let's be aware of what the implications might be for our ongoing security of the crime scene."

Police investigating the tragedy at Thunder River Rapids have a crime scene warrant for the park that lasts until at least next Tuesday and can be extended if required.

A Queensland police media spokesman told news.com.au the force was "focusing on the investigation".

"It's going to take as long as it takes to finish processing the scene," he said. "It could be a few days or a couple of weeks."

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Mr Codd said the investigation could yet shift to other parts of the theme park, although it was unlikely. "If there are perhaps other electrical or water or hydraulic sources, or switches from another part of the park that impact on that ride, they form part of the investigation," he said.

"We're going through this meticulously, in great depth, the scope of this is quite considerable."

Dreamworld had planned to hold a private ceremony for staff and emergency services tomorrow morning and open smaller rides and animal attractions to the public to raise money for the Australian Red Cross. It was intended to precede an official reopening on Saturday.

"After discussion with counsellors and a lot to do with the issues of people grieving, the decision was taken to turn tomorrow into a fundraising event to support the Red Cross and all the admission, the fees, will be donated to them," said Mr Balnaves said at Ardent's AGM today.

"The advice we have from psychologists and a lot of the people working with the staff, it is better that people get back to work and basically get together with their comrades and talk and deal with this issue rather than they are concerned about their jobs, and they're sitting at home in isolation, and we're just adding to their issues.

"At some point the park will open. And it's driven by the utmost respect for the families and the deaths, and it will open again on Saturday to basically repair the damage with a lot of our people as well. We can't return the four lives.

"The safety auditors have been through the park yesterday and provided a report late last night that all the audit of all the maintenance records has been done, it was carried out by a team yesterday. We will be doing our own internal report and the engineering department and the safety team will be going through that park with a fine-tooth comb in the next 24 hours."

Mr Codd said any evidence would be protected if the park was reopened to the public. "Steps have been taken about securing the scene already to maintain the security of that area," he added.

Some questioned whether it was too soon for workers and the public to return to Dreamworld, where Canberra mother Kate Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Dorsett, 35, his partner Roozi Araghi, 38, and 42-year-old Sydney-based New Zealander Cindy Low were killed when their raft overturned on a conveyor-belt on Tuesday. Ms Goodchild's 12-year-old daughter Ebony and Ms Low's 10-year-old son Kieran were miraculously thrown clear.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this afternoon laid flowers outside the park "on behalf of all Queensland families who cannot be at Dreamworld" at the makeshift memorial established near the entrance of the park.

She refused to be drawn into the debate about when the park should reopen, but instead said she would leave it in the hands of police.

"The issue of Dreamworld reopening tomorrow is a matter between the organisation and police," she said. "The police commissioner I understand will be having a conversation and it is up to those parties to make that decision.

"Please let the police do their job, and the police will be having discussions with Dreamworld about the timing of their opening.

"That is the matter entirely because it is a crime scene involved. It is entirely an operation matter and the organisation needs to respond to police in relation to that."

- news.com.au

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