It was actually refreshing to read this story today, about the rescue of Abby Sunderland:
…The countries involved in the rescue effort have brushed off questions about the cost of the rescue and have no plans to seek recompense. Rescues at sea are a no-cost agreement under international conventions regarding maritime search and rescue operations.
“That’s not the way the law works,” Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters on the weekend. “The Australian taxpayer at the end of the day makes a contribution. But we have to put this in context. If there was an Australian lost at sea we would want … every effort to be made to save that person.”
In France, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told an online briefing that Abby’s rescue was an international obligation to help those in distress at sea….
Australia and France incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars to find and rescue the American teen, but neither country is complaining about the money. They recognize that under international maritime law, it is their responsibility to rescue mariners in distress, with the understanding that other countries will do the same in their regions.
But just think how the story would have played these days if the roles were reversed. Imagine that it was the United States that had to spend a lot of money and send rescuers into harm’s way to save a teenager — from, let’s say, France — trying to sail around the world by herself. Our media would go bonkers for days; there would be calls for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations and every international treaty we’ve ever signed. Pundits would file the episode away and resurrect (and embellish) it every few months for the next few decades.
But in Australia, it’s no big deal.