‘What's the best hotel in Phuket?’ DFAT's worst travellers revealed alongside new consular strategy.

Mozo

Thursday 04 December 2014

The Department of Foreign Affairs has released their new consular strategy, and it’s bad news for the clueless and the rebellious.

DFAT consular strategy

The Consular Strategy 2014-6 will give priority to Australians in the most difficult circumstances, while rejecting requests from repeat offenders who make bizarre requests or have got themselves into trouble through political protest or other activities they knew were illegal.

In a statement accompanying the strategy’s release, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the new strategy would allow consular workers to prioritise Australians they believe are genuinely in need overseas.

“There must be less latitude to the small minority who have unreasonable demands of consular assistance or whose actions are wilfully reckless,” she said. 

The department's acting deputy secretary, Justin Brown, told Fairfax Media that often travellers making inappropriate requests simply didn’t understand the limits of consular assistance.

"Sometimes there's a basic ignorance about what consular is and isn't," he said.

"Often we're guilty of it as well. We talk about consular assistance and just assume people know what that means but they don't."

To accompany the launch of the new strategy, DFAT has released a list of the most inappropriate requests made by Australians travelling overseas. Highlights include:

- “I'm attending a conference overseas with a large group of Australians but I have heard it is a dangerous city. Can the High Commission arrange for a risk assessment and some armoured cars? We only need them for a week.”

- “I'm going on a cruise. What will the food be like? Can you drink the water on the ship?”

- "Why won't the Australian embassy come and pack my bags for me? I'm an 80-year-old architect travelling by myself and too old to pack my own bags."

- "Can the embassy obtain prescription medicine from Australia and send it to me so I can continue my holiday?"

- “What is the best hotel in Phuket?”

- "What is the best way to get a polecat out of your roof?"

Last year DFAT assisted nearly 15,000 Australians in difficulty overseas.

The strategy stresses the importance of travellers being prepared for travel, being self-sufficient and responsible while away, and taking out travel insurance.

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