Tuesday 18 November 2014

Hansard of the Legislative Council

MOTION: - Tasmanian Industrial Hemp Industry

[11.09 a.m.]

Mr HALL (Western Tiers - Motion) - Mr President, I move -

That this House -

(1) Notes the recommendations made by the House of Assembly Standing Committee on Environment, Resources and Development in its report into the Tasmanian Industrial Hemp Industry dated 16 October 2013;

(2) Urges the state and Federal governments to approve the industrial hemp - low THC - products for human consumption as recommended by the FSANZ report 2012;

(3) Notes that industrial hemp would increase rotational cropping opportunities for farmers in Tasmania, potentially increasing investment and jobs for downstream processing; and

(4) Notes the differentiation between industrial hemp and medical cannabis proposals.


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I confused this product for many years with flax when we talked about the history of some of those industrial products, or industrial fibre plants, in years gone by. I remember doing a history project in Oatlands, and during World War I they grew a lot of flax around Oatlands for army uniforms. I kept thinking, 'We've done it before, why wouldn't we be doing it again?', but this is a different thing - Cannabis sativa. Did you say we have been growing it in Tasmania since 199192?

Mr Hall - Yes, there have been trial crops.

Mr FINCH - I can see no reason why this motion should not get unanimous support in this House. We need every agricultural industry and opportunity we can get. Many see Tasmania's future in agricultural innovation and a strong tourism industry.

Some industries have failed, others are continuing to weaken, some are showing signs of opportunities into the future. But this debate on the industrial hemp industry in Tasmania has been going on for years and years. It has now reached the stage when governments need to act.

Howard Nichol of DPIPWE has been looking at ways to implement recommendations from the recent studies on industrial hemp and he has provided a report to the minister, Jeremy Rockliff. We might soon see some progress. I hope so. As the member for Western Tiers pointed out, industrial hemp would increase rotational cropping opportunities for farmers in Tasmania, potentially increasing investment and jobs for downstream processing.

The member for Western Tiers also stresses the difference between industrial hemp, which has that lower proportion of the drug THC, and proposals for a medicinal cannabis industry for which I have been lobbied very strongly by somebody close to my electorate. I am not sure if Lyn Cleaver is in my electorate or in yours. She lives at Prospect and is campaigning very strongly for the changes.

Mrs Armitage - Prospect would more likely be my area.

Mr FINCH - Did you receive that information from Lyn Cleaver?

Mrs Armitage - No.

Mr FINCH - I will get you on her mailing list. She is a strong advocate for the support that her child, and many others in our community, need.

There has been resistance to the idea of an industrial hemp industry based largely on ignorance. Industrial hemp is not a drug. It is a fibre with great potential, as the member for Western Tiers has mentioned. Even if it were a potential high THC, Tasmania has proved over many years that it can manage the opium poppy crops. Alarm bells might ring because of the deaths we have had with the poppy crops but it is not the same and we manage well in Tasmania with this sort of industry.

Probably the gentlest way I can put the situation is that the poppy industry is treading water at the moment, and industrial hemp would be a good replacement. I strongly support this motion. I call on the state and Federal governments to stop dragging their feet and approve an industrial hemp industry.