Australia will also trial a pilot program on the commercial importation of kava by the end of 2020. (Flickr: bdearth)
Australia will ease import restrictions on kava as part of efforts to improve relations with Fiji and other Pacific countries.
- Personal import limits will double to 4 kilograms under the changes
- Fiji has long lobbied Australia to relax its import restrictions
- Scott Morrison says it is a sign of Australia and Fiji’s close relationship
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement at the beginning of a brief visit to Suva, where he is holding formal talks with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
He also announced he would visit Blackrock Camp, a Fijian military base Australia is rebuilding after outbidding China for the reconstruction task.
The changes to laws around kava will see personal import limits lifted from 2 kilograms to 4 kilograms by the end of the year.
There will also be a pilot program allowing commercial importation of kava by the end of 2020.
Mr Morrison described the changes as a “further demonstration” of the two countries’ close relationship.
“This is something we have pursued together … to enable a greater personal allowance [for the use of kava],” he said.
The changes were warmly welcomed by Mr Bainimarama, who had been lobbying for them.
“Thank you for this announcement on kava,” he said.
“The whole of Fiji is waiting for it.”
Mr Morrison and Frank Bainimarama are holding their third bilateral meeting this year. (ABC News: Melissa Clarke)
Sports diplomacy on the agenda
Mr Morrison will visit Blackrock Camp tomorrow, where Australian and Pacific military and national security forces will train together.
But both leaders placed emphasis on the rugby league matches being played between the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII and the Fijian national sides in Suva tonight.
The teams will be promoting messages aimed at curbing violence against women and girls. (ABC News: Melissa Clarke)
Mr Morrison said he hoped the widespread popularity of rugby league across the Pacific would help build closer links between Australians and Pacific islanders.
Mr Morrison has selected the captain of his beloved Cronulla Sharks NRL team, Wade Graham, to captain the Australian men’s team, while Queensland veteran Karina Brown will captain the women’s team.
The teams will also be promoting messages aimed at curbing violence against women and girls, a widespread problem in the Pacific.
Rugby league is a topic the two leaders can agree on, in comparison to some of the disputes the pair have on issues such as climate change.
Mr Bainimarama has been a leading voice from the Pacific calling for countries to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He has made specific appeals to Australia to adopt a more ambitious emissions reduction plans and to rapidly phase out the use of coal-fired power plants.
But Mr Bainimarama has shown a willingness to set aside the differences and focus instead on areas of agreement when meeting Mr Morrison directly.
This is the pair’s third bi-lateral meeting this year, with Mr Bainimarama having been in Australia last month for a week-long visit.
Mr Bainimarama has been a vocal critic of Australia’s approach to tackling climate change. (ABC News: Tamara Penniket)