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Ugly Aussies irritate consulates
The West Australian

Clueless Australian travellers are bombarding embassies with idiotic requests - demanding diplomats pack their bags, organise armoured cars and even remove polecats from their roof.

One tourist asked if Australia would raise its travel alert for a country so he could make an insurance claim.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has given _The Weekend West _a list of some of the more dim-witted pleas made by travelling Australians to its network of embassies and high commissions dotted round the globe.

The Government says a growing number of Australians have unrealistic expectations about what their embassies can do for them, and has announced a major review of consular services - a review that could lead to cuts to the services on offer.

According to DFAT, one tourist called an Australian embassy and complained: "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."

Another phoned Australian diplomats to ask: "What is the best way to get a polecat out of your roof?"

Embassy officials say they now regularly field calls from Australians asking them to book hotel rooms, flights or to give basic tourist advice such as the best places to eat in a city. DFAT said one unidentified Australian called to say they had heard their destination was dangerous and to inquire if the local embassy could organise a fleet of armoured cars for a week.

Another hapless holiday-maker called diplomats to say they had some trouble with the law when they were last in the Philippines, asking if the Australian Government could smooth things over with local authorities so they could go back.

When the Government organised a massive effort to evacuate Australians from Lebanon during the 2006 conflict with Israel, many passport holders demanded frequent flyer points and window seats for their flight home.

DFAT helped 11,927 people in difficulty overseas during the past financial year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has declared a new consular strategy and called for public comment, saying problems were becoming more complex.