Grieving grandfather wants action

A warning on a government website is not enough, says the grandfather of a Taranaki-born teen who died of methanol poisoning after drinking in a bar in Bali.

Terry Prentice, who lives in Waitara, said more needs to be done to warn tourists of the dangers of drinking locally brewed or mixed drinks in Indonesia. "Who's going to read a website? They need to put up warnings in the airports where people are going to Indonesia."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the ministry's Safe Travel website already advises of the dangers of drinking arak in Indonesia and New Zealand citizens are encouraged to register and check the website before going on holiday.

The website warns that "travellers to parts of Southeast Asia need to be cautious about drinking arak, a distilled palm wine.

"Arak is often mixed with fruit juice as part of a cocktail. The illnesses and deaths have resulted from contamination of arak with toxic chemicals like methanol," the warning said.

The ministry would not say yesterday whether it would be making changes to its approach following the death of teen Liam Davies.

Liam, 19, died on Sunday after being hospitalised with severe methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok, near Bali, on New Year's Eve.

He was the son of Tim and Lhani Davies, from Taranaki, but the family moved to Western Australia about 14 years ago.

Liam's death has prompted Australian authorities to urge Indonesia to better police and regulate tourist bars.

Australian foreign minister Bob Carr yesterday described the death as a tragedy and noted there had been previous cases of Australian travellers being hospitalised after drinking adulterated alcohol in Indonesia.

"We are going to make representation to the Indonesian authorities about whether more careful policing and better regulation, especially of the lower end of the market, might be a useful thing to do," he told reporters in Sydney.

Senator Carr said Australian authorities would continue to issue warnings to young Australians to watch for material being added to drinks at bars. He said he had asked Australia's consul-general in Denpasar to approach Indonesian authorities with Australia's request for action as soon as possible.

Taranaki Daily News