Australia to raise methanol poisoning with Indonesia

West Australian Liam Davies, 19, died after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail on the island Lombok.
West Australian Liam Davies, 19, died after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail on the island Lombok. 

Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia will make "serious representations" to Indonesia about regulating its drinks market in tourist areas, after an Australian teenager died after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail on Lombok.

West Australian Liam Davies, 19, died on Sunday after being poisoned during New Year's celebrations at a bar on the island.

On holiday with friends, Mr Davies fell ill on New Year's Day and was flown back to Perth on Thursday, before dying in hospital.

A number of cases of methanol poisoning have previously led to Australian health authorities warning of potential poisoning from drinking the local "arak" brew.

An 18-year-old Australian school leaver was blinded in Bali last month and in September 2011, Perth-based rugby player Michael Denton died after consuming arak - which is distilled from rice or palm sap and described as a colourless, sugarless beverage with a 20 to 50 per cent alcohol content.

Also in 2011, Newcastle nurse Jamie Johnston suffered brain damage and renal failure after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail in Indonesia.

On Monday, Senator Carr said that Australia's Consul-General in Bali, Brett Farmer, would make representations to the Indonesian authorities as soon as possible.

Senator Carr told reporters in Sydney that the representations would focus on whether "more careful policing" and "better regulation" -  especially of the lower end of the market - "might be a useful thing to do".

"We can't enforce Australian alcohol standards overseas, but we can make representations to see that young travellers are better protected from this danger," Senator Carr said.

"We'll find ways of working with our good friends the Indonesians to reduce the risk of adulterated drinks."

A staff member at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra said that methanol poisoning was not a widespread problem but it did happen "from time to time".

The staff member said that there had already been some success in regulating the food and drink market for both tourists and Indonesians, adding it did not take the death of an Australian, or a call from a foreign minister, for Indonesian officials to take action.

Noting that Senator Carr and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa were on a first name basis, the staff member said they would not be surprised if there was "quick progress" on the issue.

With AAP

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