Deeper cultural ties with the Pacific

  • Joint media release
  • The Hon Alex Hawke MP, Assistant Defence Minister, Minister for International Development and the Pacific
  • The Hon Jason Wood MP, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to step up cultural ties with the Pacific, with first steps taken to reduce restrictions on kava imports into Australia.

Kava has long been, and continues to be, socially and culturally important to Pacific Islander communities, including in Australia. As a ceremonial beverage, it is commonly consumed at formal occasions, such as at weddings, festivals and family functions.

“On 11 October 2019, the Prime Minister announced that, through a pilot program, Australia will ease limitations on the importation of kava into Australia. Under the pilot, which came into effect yesterday, Australia has doubled the amount of kava that can be imported by a traveller for personal use”, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Alex Hawke, said.

“This change recognises the significant place of kava in the culture of Pacific Island communities in Australia.  It demonstrates Australia’s commitment to our Pacific family.”

From 17 December 2019, incoming passengers aged 18 years and over can bring up to four kilograms of kava in their accompanied baggage. The change was informed by a public consultation process led by the Department of Health this year.

Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Jason Wood MP, said the Government carefully managed the importation of drugs including Kava in the interests of community protection.

“Border prohibitions on substances that may cause harm to Australian communities are an important part of Australia's customs function,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

“The increased limit on personal importations of kava under a pilot program is an appropriate step that reflects the Government’s commitment to provide greater access to kava in Australia for cultural and ceremonial purposes.”

The Government will work with states and territories to carefully manage any potential health and social impacts of kava on Australian communities.


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