opinion

"Dreamworld reopening is rubbing salt into what is already a very raw, very large wound."

On Tuesday, four innocent people were horrifically killed when a children’s ride malfunctioned at Dreamworld. Less than 72 hours later, the Gold Coast theme park will re-open its gates for a “memorial day” to raise funds for charity.

If this feels dramatically off to you it’s about to get worse because by the weekend, it will be business as usual. Just in the nick of time for the busiest two days of any ordinary theme park’s week — Saturday and Sunday.

Aside from the Thunder River Rapids where the tragedy unfolded, all rides will be running. Not only is this distasteful, it is disrespectful to those who so disturbingly lost their lives and an insult to grieving loved ones.

Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Aragi were three of the four people killed. 

I understand there are financial pressures, there are shareholders to satisfy and there are staff that need to work. But this is much too soon and passing off the reopening day as a fundraising drive just makes me writhe in anger.

The statement says "entry proceeds" will go to the Red Cross -- which has been working with families impacted by the tragedy and giving support to community members -- instead of straight to the victims' relatives. It's unclear if this is for tax offset reasons.

But let's be clear here, "proceeds" means only the amount that would normally be profit will be donated, not the entire cost of the ticket.

Just this morning the CEO of parent company Ardent Leisure, Deborah Thomas, said the tragedy would have a "significant impact" on earnings at the company's annual meeting. Meanwhile, Thomas is about to pocket a six-figure bonus for the last financial year, understood to total between $670,000-$860,000. She has refused to hand it back.

It also emerged that Kate Dorsett -- the mother of victims Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett -- has hit back at claims by Thomas that she has had support from the company, saying she has yet to receive a single phone call from Ardent Leisure staff.

Ardent Leisure's chairman defended its decision to reopen tomorrow, telling the media today that it is better for people to "get back to work" and deal with the issue together than to sit at home in isolation, concerned about their jobs.

"At some point the park will open, and it’s driven with 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," he said, according to news.com.au.

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He's right. Those four precious lives cannot be returned. But there is a more delicate, more compassionate way of dealing with the situation. And this absolutely does not involve jumping back to business three days later.

Ardent Leisure chairman Neil Balnaves and CEO Deborah Thomas. Picture: Getty Images

Dreamworld's statement says they hope the reopening will be the "start of the healing process for all concerned". If that were truly the case, if they really cared about the victims, if they listened to what Australia was saying, they wouldn't have moved to reopen the theme park so astoundingly fast.

When faced with such a terrible event, human decency is so much more important than a hasty return to making back a few dollars. If I, with the gift of distance, feel so shaken by this tone-deaf announcement, I really hate to imagine how impacted relatives feel.

We've all come to expect heartless behaviour from huge enterprises. However I am honestly shocked that any sound group of people could come to this decision. Call me naive, but considering the awful circumstances, I truly had expected better.

This is just rubbing salt into what is already a very raw, very large wound.