Pacific kava dealers spark call for Australia ban
A group of Pacific Island kava dealers are being blamed for the move to see it banned from Australia.
A group of Pacific Island kava dealers are being blamed for a move to see it banned from Australia.
A limit of two kilograms of kava applies to kava brought in from the region, but this may be abolished.
Indira Moala reports.
A federal senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, is pushing for a total ban on kava, which he says is harming indigenous communities. Kava abuse is partially blamed for some societal problems in the communities. Tony Fuller, a detective superintendent for the Northern Territory Police Drug and Organised Crime Division, supports the move for a total ban.
TONY FULLER: It has a very significant impact on the aboriginal communities up here. The people that we have that are drinking it, it makes them very lethargic and it also compounds existing health issues that some of these people have in lower socio-economic regions.
The move has sparked concern in local Pacific communities. A Tongan minister 'Aisea Moala, who is working in the Northern Territory, says Pacific Islanders are frustrated because kava has important ceremonial value and the ban would unfairly penalise the entire community.
AISEA MOALA: Why are other cultures allowed to do their things here in Australia - bringing their cultures from their own place where they come from, and not us Pacific Islanders? And I think it's unfair what they're doing.
Nigel Scullion says he accepts people want to practice their culture in Australia, but not if it harms indigenous Australians. Mr Fuller says he understands the frustration but an element of Pacific Islanders are profiteering at the expense of vulnerable indigenous communities. He says some kava dealers don't care about the cultural aspects and are only in it for the money.
TF: A lot of the kava is brought into Australia and then sold in the Northern Territory to aboriginal communities at extremely inflated prices. So a kilo will sell for about a thousand dollars here.
Mr Moala says Mr Scullion should have consulted the Pacific Island community first.
AM: They should come and talk to us - the indigenous people came to us and we had a meeting before about this and we told them. But because the indigenous people can't really do much. But I think the government should come and have a good meeting with the Pacific Island community and discuss the whole issue here.
'Aisea Moala says there should be a better option to resolve the issue than a total ban. But Mr Scullion says the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is his priority.
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