Abby Hartley's situation an 'agonising issue' for governments - Winston Peters

Winston Peters has acknowledged the "terribly sad" situation Abby Hartley and her family were left in, but he has not changed his view on the Government's approach. 

Abby Hartley, 41, has died, The AM Show revealed on Tuesday, after falling seriously ill in Bali, Indonesia, while on her second honeymoon with husband Richard Hartley. 

"This has always been an agonising issue for governments," said Mr Peters, telling RadioLIVE the Government was left with the difficult situation of Ms Hartley not having the proper medical insurance to bring her back to New Zealand.  

But ACT leader David Seymour told The AM Show it was a "tragedy" that could have been prevented, had the Government cut spending in other areas. He said the "consequences of that is that the Government finds itself less able to help people in genuine, unexpected need."

When Ms Hartley fell ill, her husband wrote to the Government appealing for help to bring his wife home, but Mr Peters said at the time it was not possible. He said the Government is unable to fund costs of medical care and evacuation, and that Ms Hartley should have had the proper insurance. 

The Government did not want to set a precedent, Mr Peters said, whereby if the Government stepped in and paid for Ms Hartley to return to New Zealand, other travellers might not bother taking out insurance in the future. 

"The inevitability is that if we were to step into a case like this, who would take out medical insurance if the Government was standing behind them no matter in the world they were?" Mr Peters said. 

"That's the moral hazard we face, and that's why we stress - as do Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA - the need to get proper, sound, comprehensive medical insurance before you go overseas to countries like that."

The hospital where Ms Hartley was treated in Bali confirmed 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. 

In the last 12 months, the Government has had 3019 consular cases, Mr Peters told RadioLIVE, and in the same period has had 236 people with medical issues seek consular assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show she wished the Government had been able to help Ms Hartley, but MFAT deals with "roughly 200 plus cases of medical emergencies or medical situations every year, and about 3000 New Zealanders are helped every year abroad."

"The really sad thing is that this isn't an isolated case in assisting New Zealanders overseas," she said, adding, "There will no doubt be other cases where someone will have sought this kind of assistance."