Australian journalist Alan Morison could be jailed in Thailand on spurious criminal defamation charges. Should the Australian government make a stand and offer help? Morison certainly believes so, as he argues in Crikey today.

Australian scientists and tourists were left stranded when their ship was stuck in ice in Antarctica. Should they have expected the Australian government to help free them?

Greenpeace activist Colin Russell was jailed in Russia for his protest against oil drilling. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has suggested he pay back the $35,000 spent by the Australian government to help free him. Should he have to pick up the bill?

Where does the responsibility of our government begin and end? What expectations are reasonable — and at what cost? As one academic told Crikey today:

“The department’s being eaten alive by consular. It will be the Department For Australians Travelling.”

Dr James Cotton reckons we’ve got a “cultural expectation” of help. We might be facing a culture shock.