Australia’s PM Tony Abbott has announced that Vegemite sales will not be limited in remote communities, amid reports the spread was being used in home-brewed alcohol.
The prime minister said he did not want a “Vegemite watch”.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion had earlier described Vegemite as a “precursor to misery”, according to local media.
“This is a deregulatory government and the last thing I want to do is to have a Vegemite watch,” he told local media on August 9.
A Queensland newspaper had reported that Vegemite was being made into alcohol in large quantities in some remote Indigenous communities.
Nigel Scullion was quoted saying the spread was being bought in bulk to make moonshine.
“Businesses in these communities… have a responsibility to report any purchase that may raise their own suspicions,” he said.
The minister added that in some cases, children were failing to turn up to school because they were too hung-over, and that Vegemite was an increasingly common factor in domestic violence cases.
Dr. John Boffa of the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, who is based in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, said the problem was not widespread.