I have a certain amount of sympathy for the authorities in Australia who suggest two divers rescued after 18 hours lost at sea off the Great Barrier Reef should contribute to the cost of the operation.
There is a certain amount of disgruntled mumbling coming from the land down under after the couple – a British man and his American partner – sold their story.
I have no reason to doubt their ordeal in “shark infested seas” and the relief and gratitude they feel towards their rescuers.
But the fact that the couple reportedly engaged a “celebrity agent” so soon after being plucked from the sea seems more than a little hasty.
I’m sure the fact they sold their exclusive to a British tabloid didn’t endear them to their Aussie hosts either.
No figure has yet been put on the cost of the rescue operation, although the fact that it is the biggest staged in Queensland in recent history and involved the police, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Queensland’s State Emergency Service and the CQ rescue helicopter service (which is community funded and relies on public donations and sponsorship) suggests it will be quite high and a drain on public purses.
Whatever figure the divers did or didn’t get for their exclusive tale – reports of £500,000+ have been denied – it only seems right that the couple offer the Australian authorities more than just their gratitude.
Equally, I can’t help thinking the media so keen to scoop an exclusive would have been better off making a donation to those who made it possible for them to run such a thrilling, heart-warming, human interest story – namely the rescuers, rather than the divers who got themselves lost.
After all the story is as much the result of the dogged determination and professionalism of the rescue services as it is about the survival instinct and willpower of the divers.