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Defence charged over double road fatality

6 September 2023

The Department of Defence has been charged with breaching federal work health and safety laws over a vehicle rollover that killed two soldiers in Queensland.

Following an investigation by regulator Comcare, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed a single criminal charge alleging Defence failed in its duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

The incident happened on 30 August 2021 during exercise Diamond Dagger, on an unsealed public road that bisects the Townsville Field Training Area.

Aged 29 and 40, the soldiers were in a 45M Heavy Recovery Vehicle when it rolled on Dotswood Road after failing to negotiate a turn. Both soldiers suffered fatal injuries.

It is alleged the Department of Defence failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers including by failing to:

  • Provide information, training and instruction to workers
  • Prepare, and provide workers with, an adequate Safety Management Plan for the proposed use of Dotswood Road
  • Seek installation of guide posts and/or road markers on Dotswood Road.

The charge is a Category 2 offence under the WHS Act, carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

The matter is listed for mention at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 20 October 2023.

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Page last reviewed: 06 September 2023

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Date printed 21 Apr 2024