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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2004) . . Page.. 3388 ..

must state whether part of the building was not accessible or available during the inspection. This simple, practical modification to the building report requirements will make a very significant contribution to society’s efforts to control the asbestos hazard.

A further amendment in relation to premises that are the subject of a proposed residential tenancy agreement will require that, if there is asbestos or asbestos product in the premises, its exact location and type must be stated. In this way a good register of the presence of asbestos will be compiled.

Even though these measures will not bring back those who have been taken by asbestos diseases, we as legislators have a duty of care to society to take every, and any, step we can to keep the asbestos hazard at bay. Whatever steps can be taken should be taken as soon as possible to strengthen defences against these diseases. We should permit nothing to stand between our responsibilities and the achievement of that goal. On that basis I seek the support of the Assembly for the sensible and practical measures proposed in this bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan) adjourned to the next sitting.

Hemp Fibre Industry Facilitation Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 30 June 2004, on motion by Mrs Burke:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS DUNDAS (10.46): Over a few months we have had time to consider this bill. The Democrats have reached the position of supporting the bill, although we will raise a number of concerns that we think the government will need to take into account before the bill is implemented in the ACT. The Democrats have, for a long time, been supporters of a commercial hemp industry. Hemp is a strong and flexible fibre with many applications. It is a low-risk product and Australia exports hemp and hemp products all over the world. Even though the industry in Australia is at a relatively infant stage, Australia is a significant producer of the world’s commercial hemp crop.

The ACT Democrats are supportive of the ACT establishing its own commercial hemp industry, as we are assured that the Canberra climate is suitable for the commercial production of such a crop. Any new industry that will bring jobs and help diversify Canberra’s industry should be supported. With that focus this bill is a positive step forward.

Despite our low unemployment rate, Canberra’s economy suffers from a lack of diversity in our work force and in our industries. As with the recent explosion in grape farming, this bill gives us an opportunity to bring some much-needed options and opportunities to our work force and bring a primary industry, for which there is a genuine and growing demand, into the territory. We have seen that in Queensland. Thanks to the support of the Queensland government, the hemp industry is already well established and provides almost $20 million in exports for Queensland. So it is definitely something the ACT should be looking at for our economy and our work force market.

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