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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3389..


MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The concerns the Democrats have, however, relate to hemp as a crop. It is a relatively thirsty crop and in our current dry climate and drought conditions it would be unwise to immediately establish a hemp industry. Hemp is great as a replacement crop for cotton or other water intensive crops, but the ACT does not have a large-scale cotton industry that we are trying to replace so we will not get the water savings that come from switching from cotton crops to hemp crops.

While this bill only allows an industry to exist and puts in place a regulatory scheme to govern that industry, I urge the government to exercise care-and I am sure they will-in awarding licences, to make sure that we do not overload our fragile water levels. More work needs to be done in examining the water table in the ACT before we grant licences to allow hemp production to exist in the territory.

I would like to make it clear that support for this bill does not in any way imply the Democrats' support for a new dam. We are not in favour of that proposal. If we learn to manage water properly there is a sufficient water supply in the ACT for both urban and rural use; it will just take care.

That being said, there are positive environmental outcomes for a commercial hemp industry. Commercial hemp is a crop, because of the way it is grown and harvested. But it does not attract much insect attention and consequently relies on far less, if any, pesticides. Being a large leafy crop it crowds out other weeds and plants and is therefore not dependent on large doses of herbicides. I think that is incredibly important if we are continuing to allow things in the ACT that will support our natural environment and not impact on the environment around them, which pesticides and herbicides can do, because you cannot always control the spray of those.

With this bill as put forward-we recognise that there are some amendments coming forward from the Greens that we think are quite sensible-we are happy to support the beginning of a hemp fibre industry in the ACT. We can see the positive benefits of having such an industry in the territory but we urge caution in respect of the impact that such a crop will have on our water supplies. It is something that will need to be managed into the future.

MS TUCKER (10.51): Industrial hemp-cannabis sativa with a low THC content-has been grown in Australia in all states, some on only a trial basis and some on a more permanent crop system. The most likely use of hemp products in Australia is utilisation of the plant for its fibre in pulping for paper and timber board products, for textile use and the production of oil from its seeds.

The global hemp market is still developing, as many countries have only recently legalised the production of industrial hemp. As a consequence the market potential of many hemp products is still largely unknown. The factors that may influence a revival in hemp, as some predict, include the diversity of potential uses for hemp products and the environmental benefits of hemp relative to other crops such as cotton. It certainly is an exciting industry.

Hemp can be used for insulation, fibreboards, mulching, carpeting, panelling, clothing and cosmetics but I understand that the greatest potential for markets in Australia is for


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