Gillard expresses sympathy over NZ teen's death

Last updated 17:11 11/01/2013
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DANGEROUS BREW: Liam Davies suffered methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok on New Year's Eve.

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed sympathy for the family of a Taranaki-born teenager who died after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail in Indonesia but could not offer the comfort of concerted diplomatic action by her government.

Liam Davies lapsed into a coma on New Year's Day after ordering a vodka and lime cocktail at Rudy's Bar on Gili Trawangan off the coast of Lombok, the 19-year-old failed to regain consciousness at a hospital in Perth before doctors advised his parents to switch off his life support last Sunday.

Tim and Lhani Davies, with backing from West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, urged the Australian federal government to press its Indonesian counterpart to regulate its drinks market but Ms Gillard today said they had no power to demand change.

"We can raise our concerns but we don't make laws for Indonesia. Indonesia makes laws for Indonesia, just the way we would not have Indonesia make laws for Australia," she said during a press conference at Parliament in Canberra.

After describing Davies' death as "dreadful" and saying "our condolences most sincerely go to that family", Ms Gillard echoed Foreign Minister Bob Carr's warning that Australians must remain vigilant when frequenting bars overseas.

"If you are travelling overseas, you are not in Australia, you are not subject to Australian law and consequently you can't assume that the sorts of rules and regulations that apply here apply elsewhere," she said.

The Davies, who yesterday revealed Liam had been misdiagnosed with a brain aneurysm before being evacuated to Perth, wanted Australia authorities to investigate their son's death "aggressively".

A coronial inquiry in Perth is expected to investigate how the drink Davies consumed said - reportedly from labelled bottles - caused his death.

Mr Davies wants his son's death to be investigated, and to serve as warning to others.

"We have decided to speak in the hope that by sharing the tragic death of our son we may be able to warn others and prevent this hideous crime from taking another life. We also speak to protect our son's memory and reputation. Liam did nothing wrong, he was enjoying a few drinks at a bar like anyone else would."

He said medical staff must also be trained to accurately diagnose methanol poisoning, believing immediate treatment may have saved Liam, who suffered severe brain damage.

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"If you have loved ones in Indonesia now we suggest you contact them and make them aware of what happened to our son, so that they do not fall prey to the same event," he added.

Mrs Davies wanted the bar to be closed down and tourists to boycott the islands until bar owners and bootleggers were held accountable for the use of methanol.

However, media reports indicate Rudy's Bar was open and trading earlier this week.

Mr Barnett said his message to West Australians who loved to travel to Bali was to only consume pre-bottled drinks. 

- Stuff

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