Vegemite is a sticky spread made from yeast extract. It is an Australian icon and similar to its British cousin Marmite. Reportedly, Vegemite is being used for brewing illegal alcohol in Queensland's Aboriginal communities. Australia's indigenous affairs minister Nigel Gregory Scullion warned about the use of this popular spread to make homebrew liquor in remote communities where alcohol is banned. The minister described it as a 'precursor to misery'.
The minister's spokeswoman said, "But in some remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory where liquor is banned to stem alcohol-related problems, minister Nigel Scullion had heard of Vegemite being used to concoct the homebrew."
Scullion said, "Addiction of any type is a concern but communities, especially where alcohol is banned, must work to ensure home brewing of this type does not occur. Businesses in these communities also have a responsibility to report any purchase that may raise their own suspicions. The homebrew was a precursor to misery and children in some communities had missed school as they were too hungover from all-night benders."
Scullion stopped short of placing restrictions or bans on the sale of the spread or other yeast-based products in such communities. The spokeswoman added, "Other sources of homebrew liquor have included mouthwash and vanilla extract."
The Aborigines suffer disproportionate levels of disease, imprisonment and social problems as well as significantly lower education, employment and life expectancy. Prime Minister Tony Abbott also ruled out a ban of the spread, saying that the last thing he wanted was to have a 'Vegemite watch'. He said, "Vegemite, quite properly, is for most people a reasonably nutritious spread on your morning toast or on your sandwiches."