Radio Australia have word that the Chief Minister has now granted a three day exemption for the traditional use of kava at the Multicultural Festival:
But authorities have had a change of heart, and a trial exemption began at midnight.
The Chief Health Officer of the ACT, Dr Paul Kelly, has told Radio Australia he doesn’t believe the cultural use of kava is harmful.
“The ban was actually put in place for a very specific reason and that’s in relation to the widespread abuse of kava in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory where the use of kava is very different to the longstanding cultural use in Pacific Island countries and Pacific Island residents of Australia,” he said.
UPDATE 10/02/12 13:29: The Greens are expressing their approval of this decision:
Amanda Bresnan, ACT Greens Multicultural Affairs spokesperson said the ACT Government’s decision to permit kava at the National Multicultural Festival is a show of respect for Pacific Islander culture.
“I congratulate the Government for granting the exemption for the Multicultural Festival. Kava ceremonies are a central and meaningful part of Pacific Islander culture, and this decision recognises and respects this” said Amanda Bresnan MLA, ACT Greens Multicultural Affairs spokesperson.