By Radio New Zealand
Vanuatu and Fiji are asking Australia to significantly increase the amount of kava travellers can bring into the country.
Australia currently allows two kilograms per person, but the government is considering doubling that to four.
In submissions to Australia’s Office of Drug Control, Fiji’s government proposed a quota of 10 kilograms per person, while Vanuatu suggested 15.
The director general of Vanuatu’s foreign affairs department, Kalfau Kaloris, said he didn’t believe 4 kilograms was enough – particularly if it’s to be used at a large ceremony.
Australia’s restrictions on kava are driven by concerns about its misuse in remote communities.
But Vanuatu and Fiji have been trying to have them relaxed for years, saying the root plays an important role for South Pacific diasporas.
In a tweet, Vanuatu’s foreign minister Ralph Regenvanu said his country was looking for a “step-up,” a jibe at Australia’s so-called Pacific step up.
The submissions can be found online here.