Duncan Garner blasts Government for 'abandoning' Abby Hartley

  • 11/09/2018

Duncan Garner has blasted the Government for its inaction over Abby Hartley, the sick Kiwi woman stuck in Bali, in the wake of her death. 

"It was with genuine shock and sadness that I learned very early this morning that gravely ill New Zealander Abby Hartley died in Bali on Sunday. My first reaction was raw, a mix of sadness and anger," said Duncan Garner on The AM Show. 

Abby Hartley, 41, was rushed into hospital at the beginning of August after falling ill on her first day in Bali while on her 'second honeymoon' with husband Richard. 

She underwent emergency surgery to remove a section of bowel after doctors noticed a piece of it was twisted and dead, but her condition only got worse, and her family appealed to the Government for help. 

Her husband Richard Hartley wrote to the Government for help to bring his wife home - something Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said was not possible and that the woman should have had insurance coverage. 

The Balinese hospital Ms Hartley stayed in confirmed to TVNZ on Tuesday that she had purchased insurance with Cover-More Travel insurance through Air New Zealand.

However, she did not disclose a pre-existing bowel condition before she left for her trip to Bali. The insurer has remained quiet, opting not to comment on the situation.

Duncan Garner said it's not good enough that the Government didn't step in and help Ms Hartley get home. 

"I simply can't believe this Government allowed a rule and concern over setting a precedent to stop them helping," said Garner. "The Government abandoned her and her family in their time of need. I'm struggling to see it any other way."

A Givealittle page set up by Ms Hartley's daughter Sophie to cover the enormous hospital bills and fly the mother home raised more than $230,000 by 431 donors. 

National leader Simon Bridges said he was contacted by "concerned New Zealanders" with pockets deep enough to cover the cost of her treatment and medevac. Mr Bridges said he'd arranged to have the woman flown home. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on The AM Show: "I wish I was in a position to have helped." 

Ms Hartley's family said on the Givealittle page that she was fit to fly on Friday, but it is unknown why she wasn't brought back. 

"Actually, there is a lot we don't know and we don't even know if she would have survived if the Government had bought her home," said Garner, "but that's the thing, did her country give her the best chance of life? I would say no, because we didn't try everything." 

Asked if he'd use taxpayer money to get Ms Hartley home if he was Prime Minister, Mr Bridges hinted he would.

He said he understood what the PM and Mr Peters said about precedents, but "the truth is precedents are broken all the time - whether it's paying out in Christchurch, whether it's sending a plane out to something that's happened."

Garner said the Government should have been more flexible. 

"When Abby Hartley's family called on the New Zealand Government to be flexible, they said 'no, the rules are the rules'. But rules are made to be broken and bent," said Garner. 

"When this Government was asked to step up, it turned its cold shoulder and walked away. Our deepest sympathies to the Hartley family - may your wife and mum rest in peace."