A couple of people I know have just holidayed in Fiji. Luckily they weren’t caught up in the internal strife in that country, but what if they had? What if, despite the government warnings to avoid destinations where there is unrest and potential danger to Australians, this couple had been detained by the unstable government in Fiji? It’s not as if they weren’t aware of the risk they were taking because when they told me where they were going they sort of shrugged sheepishly and said “Fiji of all places. Oh well…”
I’ve been thinking about the government’s responsibility towards tourists and adventurers who disregard the warnings they have been given by DFAT. (The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
Here are the warnings for Fiji, for example:-
We advise you to exercise caution in Fiji due to the unresolved political situation and deterioration in the rule of law following the December 2006 military coup.
Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
On 9 April 2009, a Fijian court ruled that the interim Government, which was installed after the 2006 military coup, is illegal and elections should be held. Subsequently, Fijis President declared that he was abrogating the Constitution and would appoint a new interim government. He has also decreed a set of Public Emergency Regulations, which give the police and military extensive powers. These developments have increased political uncertainty in Fiji.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Suva due to the unresolved political situation in Fiji. The current political uncertainty could lead without warning to an outbreak of violence and civil unrest, in particular in and around Suva.
You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as such events could result in civil disorder.
You should avoid military installations, military activity and concentrations of military personnel around Suva.
Actions taken by the military and other government organisations since the coup have undermined the protections ordinarily afforded by the rule of law and have affected the interests and welfare of Australians in some instances.
There have been reports of increases in violent crime. Expatriates and tourists have been targeted, particularly in Suva. You should maintain a high degree of personal security awareness.
Credible threats have been made against the Australian High Commission and its staff in Suva.
The Australian Government has authorised the voluntary departure of the dependants of Australia-based staff in the Australian High Commission in Suva, if they wish to leave.
There has recently been an increase in the number of cases of the mosquito-borne illness dengue fever in Fiji.
And you should see the one about Afghanistan. It will terrify you!
Anyone who goes to these places despite warnings from DFAT should not expect to be bailed out by the government and, of course, by the people of Australia.
I was shocked to read Alexander Downer’s essay on Idiot Aussies on the internet site, Adelaide Now. Downer was Foreign Minister in the previous government and he is at last able to vent his frustration with tourists who disregard warnings.
He writes that the Lebanese Australians (many with dual citizenship) cost us $30 million dollars when they demanded to be rescued from Southern Lebanon during the Israel/Hezbollah war in 2006.
They had been warned not to go. They disregarded this warning and then demanded to be helped immediately. Some of them had the audacity to claim frequent flyer points for the flights that the government had supplied. And they complained when the rescue had not been tout de suite.
What a hide!
It’s not just tourists who ignore warnings. There is a species of adventurers who get themselves into trouble, either by sailing solo or jumping down cliffs, for example, who want to make a name for themselves. That double jeopardy idiot, Tony Bullimore springs to mind. Twice, yes twice, he had to be rescued by the Australian navy when he tried to sail solo around the world.
These types are inconsequential morons who seek celebrity and don’t care who pays the bill for rescuing them.
In my view, such adventurers who take up precious resources should be willing to reimburse the rescuers. They should take out idiot insurance when they decide to make a splash. In the past, Darwin’s theory would have ensured that such types did not survive for long. Now, though, they are constantly being rescued. What a regrettable state of affairs this is!