Lift Australian Kava Import Restrictions
The Gold Coast Fijian and Friends Association Inc is making a formal request to the Australian Government to lift the ban on commercial importation of kava. We feel there is no justification for the ban since world health authorities have cleared kava from links to hepatotoxicity and declared it a safe product for consumption. We feel that the significance of kava to the Pacific Island communities living in Australia has not been carefully considered. Allowing two kilos of kava into the country per incoming passenger is a very poor concession that fails to meet the cultural needs of traditional users. It is unreasonable to assume international travel is available to everyone who needs to access kava for cultural purposes, and two kilos per trip grossly underestimates the quantities required for personal use, traditional ceremonies and presentations. The Australian ban is claimed to be in place to combat alleged kava abuse by indigenous Australians in Arnhem Land. In contrast however, internet blogs from those communities claim that drinking kava was a welcomed relief from alcohol-related violence and abuse problems in that region. If however if there is indeed compelling evidence of abuse of kava in these communities, it could be managed in the same way other items for consumption, such as alcohol and nicotine, are controlled across Australia. Mainstream Australia would not respond well to an import ban on caffeine or sugar because of their abuse by a minority of consumers! Restricting the availability of kava in this country is having serious consequences in Pacific Island communities across Australia. Tongan, Fijian and Samoan communities have claimed an increase in alcohol consumption in their communities as their former controlled, traditional kava circles diminish due to the import ban. We believe that, at the very least, the powdered raw root should be available to traditional kava users in the Australian market.