So much for consular compassion

Moira Dempsey writes: Re. “All expenses paid: is consular help too generous?” (yesterday). I was just reading your article about the cost of consular assistance, and it came to mind that actually the consular service does not always offer service to Australians abroad — or didn’t — and don’t always care.
Some 22 years ago I was involved in an accident in Kota Kinabalu Sabah, Malaysia — a quite serious accident. The person I was with was a volunteer with what was then Australian Volunteers Abroad. I had been a volunteer as well, however was in Malaysia on holiday at the time.

We were both in hospital waiting for arrangements to be made to be medevaced back to Australia when a call came for my friend from the Australian consular office from the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. They spoke to her for a while. My friend then said would they like to talk to me. The response was really shocking — they said they has no knowledge of me, having been only informed about my friend, and were not interested in me at all, I was on my own and were not going to talk to me.

Talk about compassion and concern. They did call my friend a few times while we were waiting to be sent back, however always refused to talk to or acknowledge me. I guess it was extremely fortunate that I had travel insurance, as I might still be waiting for assistance.

I truly hope that the consular services treat all Australian in need is assistance with equality, dignity and compassion. I personally doubt it, but we can all hope.

Glen Frost writes: If DFAT can invoice Aussies for helping them overseas, why can’t police or the Department of Health invoice the person who king hit a Sydney teenager into a coma last week for the cost of policing, ambulance, A&E/ER and the ongoing medical services?

Given that some victims of alcohol-fuelled violence will need 24×7 care for the rest of their lives, a single bill would be in the millions …

Leave it to Bernardi

Valerie Craig writes: Re. “Picking on Bernardi unbecoming (or perhaps he’s an arsehat)” (yesterday). I can see that Cory Bernardi would like to have us live in a nice suburb in a nice house with a white picket fence. The biological mother would stay at home cleaning the house, mending clothes, washing and cooking.

The biological children would come home from their private religious school and start their homework. The biological father (married to the biological mother) would come home from work, spend a little time with the children then all would sit down to dinner, a home-cooked meal. But first family prayers. The children go to bed about 8-8.30pm, and father would read them a bed time story from the Bible.

Roy Ramage writes: Happy New Year, Tamas Calderwood. I thought Crikey was praising the senator. I’m looking forward to more of your climate change opinions, as I’m a little tired of experts like conservative senators. Welcome back, Crikey!!

John Kotsopoulos writes: I have to agree with Tamas Calderwood that everyone is entitled to participate in public debate. The experts should not have a monopoly.

The problem that does arise in regard to the climate debate, which Calderwood so avidly follows, is that he seems to want lay opinions to carry the same weight as evidence based expert opinions. In relation to the cause and effect of climate change we have an overwhelming scientific consensus that is as close to established fact that anyone could reasonably expect.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, American politician and sociologist  once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Ian Mitchell writes: Surely it’s time we got over the idea that all opinions are equal, the great fallacy of the age of the internet.

While there is always room for question and dissent, expertise, research and scientific evidence need to be acknowledged and not equated with belief and opinion informed by spin, sectional interests and faith.