Foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has said she’d look seriously at getting the money spent on Russell’s recovery back, and is considering wider charges for Government support for Australians in strike abroad.
“Of course cost recovery can be an important part of providing consular support,” she said.
New Limited reports said Bishop is reviewing Government policy on the help given to travellers in trouble, and taking into account whether the person needing assistance was at fault or had taken all possible precautions.
Russell, who was arrested and detained among 30 Greenpeace activists in September during a protest against an oil rig in the Pechora Sea, slammed the Government’s help as “too little, too late” when he got to Hobart last week.
Bishop said Moscow-based consular officials went to Murmansk and St Petersburg, where Russell was detained, six times.
“I met face to face with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Morgulov, on two occasions,” she said. “I personally wrote to Foreign Minister Lavrov on behalf of Mr Russell and made representations.”
In 2012-13, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade assisted 11,927 Australians around the world, including 1372 hospital cases and 28 medical evacuations.
There were also 1365 arrested or imprisioned Aussies who got consular support and 1247 travellers died.
“Common cases include arrests, accidents and hospitalisation, mental health issues, the death of a family member, schoolies-related issues and repatriation,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.
The Bali and Bangkok consulates are the busiest with about one million Aussies going there each year.
A medical evacuation, as was the case with Darwin teen Jasmine Baker due to methanol poisoning from bootleg booze, costs the Government $40,000 to $60,000.
Images via Getty