7 Jan 2013

Teen New Zealander's death spurs questions

9:44 pm on 7 January 2013

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr will ask Indonesian authorities to do more to protect tourists after the death of a young New Zealander who died from methanol poisoning on Sunday.

Liam Davies, 19, died in a Perth hospital after unwittingly drank the deadly cocktail during a night out with friends on Lombok, near Bali, the ABC reports.

Liam was the son of Tim and Lhani Davies from Taranaki.

It is not the first case of its kind and has prompted the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to liken the sale of drinks containing methanol to manslaughter.

New Zealander Michael Denton - who was a Perth-based rugby player - died in Bali after consuming a colourless, sugarless spirit with a 20% to 50% alcohol content, which is often distilled from rice or palm sap. It had been spiked with methanol.

At Mr Denton's inquest in Dunedin, coroner David Crerar said foreign ministries should warn citizens about the dangers of consuming the local concoction, which also blinded an 18-year-old Australian school leaver in Bali in December last year.

Senator Carr says he plans to talk to authorities about what action can be taken.

"We are going to make representations to Indonesian authorities about whether more careful policing and better regulation, especially the lower end of the market might be a useful thing to do, to ensure that appropriate safety standards are maintained in the mixing and preparation of these drinks," he said.

"I think consumers are entitled to know about the reputation of the place in which they are spending their money in. Just how you would take responsibility for getting that to visitors, I'm not sure.

"But if the AMA of others were to nominate a site, then I am sure that would come to the attention of a lot of Australian travellers."

On Sunday, AMA spokesman David Mountain said bars selling unregulated drinks should be prosecuted by Indonesian authorities.

"The bar owners that are selling these things really do need to have consequences. In Australia this would be manslaughter, if a bar actually did this to a patron," he said.

"They need to crack down on bootleg liquor sales which are unregulated, where you're likely to get methanol mixed in with alcohol."

The chairman of the Indonesia Institute, an organisation set up to promote relations between Australia and Indonesia, met on Monday with Indonesia's consul general to discuss tougher penalties.

Ross Taylor says many of the bars are remote and difficult to regulate, but Indonesian authorities want the country to be safe for tourists.

Similar deaths have occurred recently in India, where 100 people died, and in the Czech Republic, where 19 were killed.