Kava imports to Australia get green light from Morrison on Pacific visit

Importing kava into Australia will be easier after Scott Morrison announced a trial program to loosen import restrictions.

Kava will be easier to get into Australia after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a trial to ease restrictions on the substance.

The bitter drink, which has mild sedative and euphoric properties, is culturally important in Pacific communities but has had import restrictions in Australia for many years.

Mr Morrison agreed to the proposal after a meeting with Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai in Port Vila on Wednesday.

Prince Harry sampled some kava in Fiji during an official visit in October 2018.
Source: PA Images

"We have agreed that we will be working to put a pilot program together to ease some of the limitations on importation of kava into Australia," Mr Morrison said after the meeting.

"That is for personal use, I should stress."

Mr Morrison said kava had a large market around the world and Australia was helping Vanuatu to open up new markets for the product.

He said Australia would be careful to ensure the importation of kava doesn't create other problems in local communities, but he was confident it could work.

"There are currently restrictions for personal use. It is a very modest amount that can come in, which is hardly going to manage one family gathering, I think, in Western Sydney," Mr Morrison said.

"I'm confident that we can work together to come up with a program which both protects Australians from any of those risks, but at the same time allows for the cultural experience and exchanges that would take place with Pacific peoples."

Published 16 January 2019 at 5:30pm