Consular officials in Bangkok are used to helping Australians in compromising situations, but even they were shocked when a man asked taxpayers to foot the bill for a prostitute. The request is just one example of bizarre requests the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are cracking down on. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has launched a new strategy for consular officials to deal with the problem, warning Australian travellers to stop expecting the government to bail them out if they get in trouble. People who make repeat requests for unreasonable assistance will be turned down. Some of the more outrageous requests made of consular officials include one person who asked staff to take care of a pet parrot and feed a woman’s dogs while she was overseas. The Bangkok mission deals with the most requests for assistance, followed by Bali, Manila, Los Angeles and Dubai.
Top Ten Weird Requests:
1) A traveller who was destitute in Europe refused to return to Australia without their pet bird, which could not be returned for quarantine reasons
2) A mother who wanted the embassy in Bangkok to book accommodation and a return ticket to Australia for her son, then provide an embassy driver to take him to the airport
3) A request from an Australian traveller to feed her dogs while she was away
4) “I’m attending a conference overseas with a large group of Australians but I have heard it is a dangerous city. Can the High Commission arrange for a risk assessment and some armoured cars? We only need them for a week.”
5) A traveller who asked whether the sand in Egypt would affect her asthma
6) “Why won’t the Australian embassy come and pack my bags for me? I’m an 80 year old architect travelling by myself and too old to pack my own bags”
7) “Can the embassy obtain prescription medicine from Australia and send it to me so I can continue my holiday?”
8) Requests for embassies to store luggage, hold mail, provide banking facilities or arrange tours for Australian travellers
9) A caller wanted to know the average salary for an expat to expect in Thailand
10) “Can the embassy tell the local police that I have an excellent driving record in Australia and should not have to pay those outstanding speeding fines?” * List provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.