The Department of Defence has been charged with breaching work health and safety laws over a crocodile attack involving two soldiers in Far North Queensland in 2021.
The Darwin-based soldiers were given permission to go fishing in an inflatable boat at Portland Roads, a coastal community about 800km north of Cairns, after having transported a landing craft from Darwin to Townsville for maintenance.
After anchoring their boat, the pair went swimming.
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They were almost immediately attacked by a 2.5 metre saltwater crocodile, both suffering serious injuries and taken to hospital on August 6.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has since charged the department, alleging it failed to conduct a risk assessment, failed to prohibit workers from entering crocodile-inhabited waters and failed to provide a briefing to the soldiers about the risk of crocodile attacks when entering the water.
The national work health and safety, and workers’ compensation authority, Comcare said if found guilty, the category two offence carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.
The matter is listed for mention in Brisbane Magistrates Court on September, 15, 2023.
A spokesperson for the Department of Defence said the safety of its people was paramount, but it would not make further comment because of the legal proceedings.
“Defence remains grateful to the Lockhart River community, the Queensland Ambulance Service, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Cairns Hospital for their care and response to the 2021 incident where two Australian Army members were attacked by a crocodile in Far North Queensland,” the spokesperson said.
“The safety of our people is paramount in all activities and critical to our mission of defending Australia and its national interests.”
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