19 March 2014
Andrew asked the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to ease restrictions on growing industrial hemp to allow Tasmanian farmers to cultivate the lucrative crop.
Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:12): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, industrial hemp cannot be smoked and would be a lucrative crop for many Tasmanian farmers. It produces fabric, paper, construction material and omega-3-rich oil. Prime Minister, when will the government ease restrictions on its cultivation and use, as recommended since 2002 by Food Standards Australia New Zealand? Wellington acted on that advice 12 years ago. When will Canberra stop talking about it and work with the states to make it happen?
Mr ABBOTT (Warringah—Prime Minister) (14:12): I do thank the member for Denison for his question and I do appreciate his concern to try to ensure that the agricultural industries of Tasmania are given every possible opportunity to succeed. I entirely share that desire to give the agricultural industries of Tasmania and of our nation every possible opportunity to succeed. That is one of the reasons why we have negotiated a free trade agreement with Korea, to help the great agricultural industries of our country. That is why we are on the high road to an economic partnership agreement with Japan and it is why we are negotiating with China: to try to ensure that farmers right around our great country get a fair go.
I absolutely accept that industrial hemp, fibre hemp, does have many uses. I absolutely accept that. My understanding is that Food Standards Australia New Zealand is currently looking at this matter again. It will report, as I understand it, by 30 June, and the government will respond at that time.