Should Greenpeace reimburse the taxpayers?

3 News reports:

Australia’s foreign minister may ask Greenpeace to help foot the bill for consular support to the Arctic 30, but the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has ruled out a similar move.

Thirty Greenpeace activists – including two New Zealanders – were released just after Christmas after being detained for four months in Russia.

The group had been protesting against Arctic oil drilling.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian taxpayers were entitled to ask why they should be covering the cost of assisting Australian activist Colin Russell to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

“It took a huge effort and a lot of money to get this guy out and the Australian taxpayer paid for it,” Ms Bishop said yesterday.

“If it is a deliberate strategy designed to provoke a response and potentially to risk breaking the laws of another country, the question of cost recovery does arise.”

Citizens of a country who accidentally end up on the wrong side of the law in another country, should get consular assistance. But it is a fair point Julie Bishop makes, that when they travel to a country to deliberately break the law, then shouldn’t the organisation that put them up to it, pay the costs of their assistance?

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