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Australian PM Scott Morrison relaxes kava import rule during Vanuatu visit

Scott Morrison went to Vanuatu to open highway upgrades and a police college but in a show of true friendship he announced Australia would allow the importation of traditional island brew, kava.

A ban on importing the drink derived from a plant root into Australia had been a sore point in Vanuatu and PM Morrison was lobbied by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas.

“This is important to Vanuatu. It’s been raised for many years,” Morrison said.

“We have to be careful about how we proceed on this, because what we don’t want to see is the importation of kava into Australia create other challenges, particularly in Australian indigenous communities.”

Import restrictions currently allow only 2kg of dried kava root to be brought into Australia but under the trial the drink would be permitted for personal use.

Morrison took his wife, Jenny, for the one-day charm offensive and the first visit by an Australian prime minister to the Pacific island country since 1990.

It was Morrison’s second visit to Vanuatu after going on a family cruise holiday as a child.

“The first time I came here was off a cruise ship with my parents, I was under 10. It was pre-independence and it is a great thrill to see what has happened here in Vanuatu under independence,” Morrison said.

He opened the Lini Highway and the upgraded Vanuatu Police College, both achieved with Australian backing, and lauded a $39 million Australian-supported revamp of Port Vila’s road and drainage systems..

Photo: Hilaire Bule


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