It's time for "lazy or silly" Australian tourists who get in trouble overseas to take responsibility for their own actions, former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer says.
In an article written for the Adelaide Advertiser, Mr Downer cites the recent case involving Melbourne woman Annice Smoel who was accused of stealing a bar mat from a Thai bar, the Schappelle Corby case, and the evacuation of thousands of Australians from war-affected Lebanon in 2006.
"After about 10 minutes as foreign minister I was a little surprised to learn I was 'responsible' for miscreant Australians who got into trouble in foreign countries," he wrote.
"No, no, no, don't get it wrong - drug traffickers, drunks, kleptomaniacs and fraudsters weren't responsible for their own stupidity - I was.
"It's about time that great nanny in Canberra, the federal government, turned around and told people they are responsible for their own decisions."
Mr Downer says the Australian government could not perform miracles in other countries, and tourists should be more aware of what is expected of them when they travel.
"There are no special laws for Australians overseas. Foreigners make the laws over there, not us," he wrote.
"If you're too dumb or idle to read the travel advisories and too mean to take out travel insurance when you go overseas then you ought to take responsibility for your own behaviour.
"Sure, if there's a catastrophe like the Bali bombings or you're trapped in a corruption scam the government should try to help.
"But not if you're too lazy and silly to help yourself."
Mr Downer was foreign affairs minister from 1996 to 2007.