Wednesday 14 October 2015

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Industrial Hemp Bill 2015


Mr FINCH (Rosevears)  - Mr President, it was something of a nonsense to regulate the production of industrial hemp under poisons legislation when it has no value as a medicinal or recreational drug. 
The industrial hemp industry in Tasmania has been struggling to become established since 1991 - struggling against unnecessary over-regulation.  I know the passing of this bill will be a wonderful moment for a great campaigner from my electorate who has been working with me for many years, Estelle Ross .  I am sure other members have had negotiations with her and seen her campaign unfold in The Examiner newspaper particularly, and in other areas.  To her this was all a no‑brainer.  At times she must have thought that she was a lone voice in the wilderness.  One of course wonders why it has taken more than 20 years for that to be realised and for steps to be taken to improve the situation.  I commend the Government for this legislation that is before us. 
If we approve the bill this week, and I see no reason why we should not, it is important that it be enacted urgently, but I will take advice from someone like the member for Western Tiers, a farmer, because it should go through by the end of this month.  The need to sow seed in November is the time line; I do not know whether farmers are looking to that.  By the end of October, it would be good to have all the formalities out of the way so that they can look to next year's crop.  They would need to be certain that the cumbersome regulations are being loosened. 
We need to diversify agriculture as much as possible in Tasmania.  That is what this represents to me.  With sufficient scale, an industrial hemp industry could even open up opportunities for downstream processing.  Let us get on with it.