Back in October last year, my colleague Alex Oliver posted an item about the case of Alexandra Bean, an Australian who had been detained in Libya. Alex wrote that Foreign Minister Bob Carr 'is beginning to comprehend the intractability of the consular conundrum: managing the soaring demand for consular services from an Australian traveling public which takes more than 8 million overseas trips each year, while resisting the temptation to rescue every Australian in trouble overseas, no matter how worthy the case.'
Alex warned of a 'vicious cycle' fueled by foreign ministers and prime ministers in which 'a successful high-level intervention in one consular case leads to calls for the same intensive level of ministerial service in the next', a situation which can be 'can be calamitous for the sane management of Australia's diplomacy.'
In that context, note Senator Carr's language on Radio National this morning in relation to the detention of two Australians in Dubai. He has just moved the bar for consular assistance still higher by boasting that the Australian Government's stance on this issue has been more intensive than that of any other government:
Let me say with pride, no other government in the world would elevate a consular case in the way we have...
...I've taken out material on how Canada and the United Kingdom have dealt with comparable cases in the country, there is no record of it being dealt with on a comparable level...'
Senator Carr and his successors may come to regret such boasts.
Photo by Flickr user robpatrick.