Banned from Brisbane's "Ekka" (Annual rural show) even though it has been proven safe for 100 years
The dead hand of bureaucracy has killed off an Ekka institution. The Grand Carousel, an antique merry-go-round that has thrilled thousands of youngsters for more than half a century, has been barred from this year's Ekka over fears children might be crushed under the hooves of its timber horses. Even though it is considered safe in other states, the objections of a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspector have led to the Grand Carousel's 57-year link with the show being severed.
With the 133rd Ekka under way tomorrow, other safety inspectors were yesterday absorbed in the potentially hair-raising task of testing thrill rides such as the Sky Walker and Insanity. But controversy surrounded a far more pedestrian ride.
John Short, whose father Lesley first brought the Grand Carousel to the Ekka in 1951, has been forced to leave his "flagship" operating on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra, where it enjoys the approval of Victorian WorkSafe inspectors. It is understood the Queensland inspector's concerns were triggered last year when he observed a primary school-aged child who appeared "unsteady" in the saddle. He concluded a child who fell off could be crushed under the rising and falling horse or roll off the carousel platform and hit their heads.
Brian Bradley, an engineer who carries out inspections for amusement ride operators, said the inspector had "concocted a potential hazard". "Bear in mind there's an operator in the centre of the ride who watches it going around, there's an attendant on the side of the ride, who is able to jump on as it's moving without any problem," he said. "You've also got the parents to hold their two or three-year-olds on a horse, riding for nothing, just for safety precautions. (Nothing) has ever happened in the 100 years the ride's been operating but because this particular inspector had a bright idea that it could happen and made an issue of it, the ride won't work in Queensland again."
The inspector warned the RNA in February that Mr Short would be issued with a prohibition notice on the ride unless he carried out substantial alterations, including a new barrier. Mr Short described the request as "ridiculous". "He wanted me to redesign the whole thing and I'm not willing to do that to a 120-year-old machine," he said. Mr Short turned instead to a modern alternative, the Space Carousel. "It hasn't got the charm or nostalgia of the Grand Carousel, but nothing does," he said.
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