Ardent Leisure pleads guilty to Dreamworld tragedy charges

Ardent Leisure pleads guilty to Dreamworld tragedy charges

Ardent Leisure (ASX: ALG), the parent company of Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld, has pleaded guilty over three charges relating to the 2016 Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy.

Each of the three charges over breaches of the QLD Work Health and Safety Act (2011) attract a maximum penalty of $1.5 million, meaning the company could now be slugged with $4.5 million in fines.

The charges, brought by the Queensland Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, relate to the 2016 Thunder River Rapids Ride tragedy when the lives of four people were taken after the ride at Dreamworld malfunctioned.

The situation sparked four years of questions and inquests, with a final Coroners report revealing that the disaster was the result of "systemic failure" at Dreamworld.

Ardent Leisure says it will not be commenting on today's guilty plea in the Southport Magistrates Court as the case is still before the courts.

In a statement made by the company earlier this month the group said it has been taking steps to improve park safety at Dreamworld in the wake of the tragedy.

"First and foremost, we again express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of Roozbeh Araghi, Luke Dorsett, Kate Goodchild and Cindy Low for their loss and ongoing suffering and say sorry to all of the people impacted by this tragedy," said Ardent Leisure.

"There has been considerable change at Dreamworld over the last few years as was acknowledged by the Coroner in his Report.

"Dreamworld has taken substantive and proactive steps to improve safety across the entire park and continues to enhance existing systems and practices, as well as adopt new ones, as we develop and implement our safety case in accordance with the Queensland Government's new major amusement park safety regulations."

The Queensland Work Health and Safety Prosecutor's case follows a class action launched by Piper Alderman in June 2020 also relating to the 2016 tragedy.

The Sydney-headquartered group reported the proceedings had been filed by law firm Piper Alderman in the Federal Court of Australia on behalf of people who purchased ALG shares in the 28 months leading up to the event.

Ardent Leisure said it intended on "vigorously" defending proceedings.

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