Dreamworld may have no defence for the shocking accident that left four people dead, according to a lawyer.

The theme park is likely to face million-dollar fines, compensation claims from the families of those who were killed on the Thunder River Rapids, and could even be shut down.

"While defendants may suggest that theme park visitors accept the risk of injury when they enter park grounds, in a case like this, I believe that such a defence wouldn't stand up, particularly if the park is found negligent," said Roger Singh, a Shine Lawyers partner and accredited specialist in personal injury law.

"Theme parks need to ensure that all rides and facilities are safe for the public to use and visitors shouldn't have reason to think they may be in danger. This is a family ride and it should not have malfunctioned and caused such carnage and tragedy."


His dire prediction comes after a stream of recent allegations by visitors that rides at the park were broken, faulty or in bad repair. Documents have now emerged detailing more than 12 complaints, injury reports and maintenance concerns from 2010 to 2016, including a report the Thunder River Rapids ride was "not fit for service."

Executives from the theme park's parent company are today due to decide their annual bonuses at Ardent Leisure's Annual General Meeting.

"This is an absolute tragedy and our hearts go out to those who have been affected, particularly those who have lost loved ones," Singh said.

"The management of facilities like theme parks and leisure centres have a duty of care to protect and ensure the safety of all visitors. If this duty is breached and a person is injured, they may have a right to compensation.

"We understand that Workplace Health and Safety is currently investigating the tragedy and we will soon understand more about how and why this happened. If these investigations show that the theme park failed to ensure that all facilities were properly-maintained and safe, this may pave the way for those affected to take legal action.

"These claims could involve compensation for the pain and suffering endured by those who have lost loved ones or who witnessed the tragedy. If the trauma they've experienced means that they need additional support and care or leaves them unable to go back to work, these things could also form part of the claim. If a family has lost a main breadwinner who they depended on financially, avenues may be available for them to be compensated for the loss of income to the family."

Deborah Thomas was a model and magazine editor before becoming CEO of Dreamworld's parent company Ardent Leisure.Photo / News Corp Australia
Deborah Thomas was a model and magazine editor before becoming CEO of Dreamworld's parent company Ardent Leisure.Photo / News Corp Australia

Brisbane lawyer Alison Barrett, who spoke to witnesses of the incident, told the ABC she believes those found responsible could face jail terms and hefty fines.

"Cases like this generally aren't just freak accidents, it's generally a series of events or something has actually gone wrong to result in such a significant catastrophic event," she said.


"If Dreamworld is prosecuted, the highest penalty is up to $3 million for a corporation. So Dreamworld itself, and then the directors themselves can also be held personally liable and face up to five years in jail and other hefty penalties."

Emergency workers say it was a pump malfunction that caused the four deaths on the 30-year-old ride.

As part of a coronial inquiry, investigators will need to look into not only why the pump stopped but the theme park's response to a series of breakdowns on the river rapids.

Canberra mother Kate Goodchild, 32, her brother Luke Dorsett, his partner Roozi Araghi and a 42-year-old Sydney-based New Zealand woman, Cindy Low, were killed when their raft overturned on a conveyor-belt. Ms Goodchild's 13-year-old daughter Ebony and Ms Low's 10-year-old son Kieran were miraculously thrown clear.

Matthew Low, a business systems specialist for hearing aid company Oticon who lost his wife Cindy in the accident, was in a state of "intense grief" his workmates said.

"The family are traumatised, and kindly request that their privacy be respected as they try to come to terms with this tragic loss," a statement from his North Ryde company said.

David Goodchild watched helplessly as his wife Kate was crushed and drowned right in front of his eyes.

Dreamworld, which will partially reopen for a memorial day tomorrow, said in a statement this morning: "Dreamworld has reached out to the families through Queensland Police to offer its unwavering support.

"Our deepest sympathies and heartfelt thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the victims, the first responders on the scene, guests who were at the park and Dreamworld staff.

Flowers at Dreamworld, where four people were killed following an accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Gold Coast. Photo / Getty
Flowers at Dreamworld, where four people were killed following an accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Gold Coast. Photo / Getty

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

"We can assure you, the entire Dreamworld team is committed to working closely with the
investigating authorities on all matters of safety, process and procedures relating to the incident.

"We support the Mayor and the Premier's sentiment that we can leave no stone unturned.
Safety of our guests, staff and wildlife is a core value of our business.

"We welcomed almost 1.8 million people to Dreamworld last financial year and prior to Tuesday there has never been a death at the park due to a ride incident, despite Dreamworld hosting more than 30 million visitors since it opened in 1981.

"This is largely due to our robust policies and procedures and our 1000 plus employees who are totally committed to guest services and guest safety. The importance of safety is inherent in all our operations and decisions at every level of the business.

"All our procedures and systems are constantly benchmarked against international best practice and ride manufacturer specifications.

"Our rides and slides are checked and tested by our experienced team before the park opens every day.

"If it's not tested, it doesn't open."

Assistant Police Commissioner Brian Codd, who has viewed CCTV footage of the tragedy,
said the children would have a very tough time ahead of them after they witnessed the death of their mothers.

"(It has been) absolutely traumatic for these children, and it will continue to be," Mr Codd said, adding that the tragedy had a "deep and emotional effect on a lot of people".

He confirmed the ride would remain a crime scene for several days. "We owe it to the deceased and their families, we owe it to the community of Queensland, to get to the bottom of what caused this," Mr Codd said.

"If and where there is criminal aspects, including negligence, which warrants being pursued we will do that."

Dreamworld's owner Ardent Leisure sought to block the release of 143 pages of critical information relating to ride safety and inspections obtained by the Australian Workers' Union earlier this year, it has emerged.

Inspector Shaun Langdon said he told Dreamworld "they were taking a risk and if I was a paying customer I wouldn't go on any rides, the condition they were in."

Dreamworld is already facing a public liability claim from Samson Sherrin, 19, who fell from the Rocky Hollow Log ride in April and suffered horrific injuries and psychological trauma. He alleges negligence by the park, claiming a friend had to rescue him after two boats ran over him.

AWU Queensland secretary Ben Swan told ABC radio: "We raised concerns directly with the company as far back as April 2015. We have had concerns about maintenance and operation regimes.

"We've expressed those concerns directly to the company. I don't want to inflame the situation because I think people's priority should rightly be on taking care of the situation that immediately exists but we did hold some very grave concerns about safety of equipment and the operation of equipment at that site."