We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features The rising cost to DFAT of Australians travelling abroad
Text size :
TAGS Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Julie Bishop, Consular assistance
An amusing list of requests for embassy help released by DFAT has had wide coverage, but the rising cost of consular services is no laughing matter for Australia’s diplomats.
There was the request for advice on how to get a polecat out of a roof. Another asked whether consular staff could help pack his bags. And a plea to an embassy to pay a prostitute.
The anecdotes from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week gave punters plenty to laugh at. But the updated consular strategy released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade — revealing a stricter approach to the provision of consular services — was also an acknowledgement that the combination of stagnating budgets and needy, itchy-footed Aussies is causing headaches.
One foreign affairs watcher believes the department’s “anaemic” budget is stretching resources like never before. And a former diplomat told The Mandarin the government is signalling further funding cuts — and more personal responsibility for Australians overseas.
Releasing the Consular Strategy 2014-16 on Wednesday, Bishop said it “emphasises there must be less latitude to the small minority who have unreasonable demands of consular assistance or whose actions are wilfully reckless”. While the Foreign Minister insisted the measure would have a “miniscule” effect on the bottom line, the decision to release the traveller tales was undoubtedly part of an effort to stem the problem of consular assistance chewing up an ever-larger portion of DFAT’s budget.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.
Read Related Content
DFAT's free trade negotiator Jan Adams has been named as Australia's next ambassador to China, replacing Frances Adamson in the key diplomatic posting that remains politician-free after nearly 70 years.