Australia Ponders Consular Costs For "Reckless" Travel

By Editorial 09 January, 2014

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has suggested that Australians who get into trouble overseas may in future be charged for consular assistance if their predicament is due to having acted "recklessly."

The cost recovery fees would apply in situations where a traveler had ignored travel advice, failed to take out recommended insurance, or entered another country deliberately to break laws there.

In particular, Bishop cited the case of Colin Russell, a Greenpeace activist who had been detained in Russia after an attempt to invade a Russian oil rig. Bishop said that she would "look at" whether costs could be recovered, and that if Greenpeace were to undertake similar actions in the future there was "no way" the Australian taxpayer should have to pay the bill.

She also rejected claims by Russell that the Australian Government should have done more to assist him, saying that diplomats based in Moscow had visited him in Murmansk a number of times and met with Russian officials.

Last month, Bishop complained that the public sometimes had a "skewed" understanding of consular services and unrealistic expectations. The Foreign Affairs Ministry is currently reviewing its Consular Strategy and inviting comments about what services should be available and who should be prioritized for assistance.

Tags: Australia | Expats | Travel | Welfare |


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