Industrial Hemp Bill
Introduction and First Reading
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 17:32 :43 ): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to authorise and regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp; to make a related amendment to the Controlled Substances Act 1984; and for other purposes. Read a first time.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 17:33 :36 ): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill deals with industrial hemp. Industrial hemp has no affect as a drug. Indeed, industrial hemp is an alternative crop for South Australian farmers that would see us producing food, fibre, fuel and components. It would offer opportunities, it would offer jobs, and it would exemplify innovation. Indeed, it can get no cleaner or greener than industrial hemp, but at the moment we are not pursuing an industrial hemp cultivation program in this state. Indeed, we call ourselves 'clean and green' but industrial hemp is currently unseen. That is because it is currently illegal in South Australia to grow industrial hemp. South Australia stands alone amongst all the states in being in this situation.
Industrial hemp, of course, has a long history. It goes back to some of the earliest times where, of course, members would probably be aware of its production and use in things such as paper and rope in ancient times.
Around the world, we see industrial hemp used for an enormous array of products. It can be used for biofuels, blankets, printing, newsprint, cardboard, biochemicals, moulding, carpets, towels, blankets, curtains, apparel, bags, shoes, socks, fibreboard, insulation, Hempcrete (which I will touch on again later), animal bedding, mulch, breads, granola, milk, cereals, protein powders, soaps, shampoos, hand creams, cosmetics, lip balms, oils, paints, solvents, varnishes, lubricants and inks. These are just a small selection of the products that the Industrial Hemp Association of South Australia has noted could be being grown right now, in terms of the raw products, for manufacture in South Australia.
Growing hemp, of course, was prohibited in the United States in the 1930s to support the manufacturing of synthetics from oil. It has suffered a great level of misinformation. I repeat, industrial hemp is not a drug. I note that today, in the parliament library in the Muriel Matters Room, the Industrial Hemp Association of South Australia hosted, with myself, an exhibition of industrial hemp products to allay the confusion that seems to be rife within, at least, this state. It is not a confusion held, of course, in other states where they have acted to ensure the cultivation in those states of industrial hemp.
In New South Wales, they changed their laws with the Hemp Industry Act 2008. In Victoria, they had changes in the early eighties and more recently in 2008. In the ACT, they changed their laws and have an industry act of 2008, but had some earlier changes in that territory. In Queensland, the laws were changed in 1986 under the Drug Misuse Act, which allows for the cultivation of industrial cannabis.
In every other state, with the exception, of course, of the Northern Territory, industrial hemp is currently able to be cultivated. Most relevant to this particular debate today is Tasmania. Tasmania has some of the most modern laws in Australia and in 2015, under the Industrial Hemp Act, we have seen Tasmania really move forward. The bill that we have before us in this chamber today is modelled on those principles.
Of course, cannabis plants can vary in the level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is a psychoactive substance that those plants contain. Varieties that are grown for illicit drug use have been cultivated to maximise the THC levels. The cannabis plants that are grown for oil and fibre contain low levels of THC, and in this bill there is provision for that level to be less than 1 per cent, which is in line with the laws around the nation.
There is also provision in the bill, of course, to make an appropriate regulatory framework to ensure that the cultivation of industrial hemp is done by those who are fit and proper people and in a way that will not lead to flouting of the law to enable in any way the cultivation of a drug to be undertaken.
It is important to recognise that we have come a long way, around Australia, but we have stood still here in South Australia. I want to commend the Industrial Hemp Association of South Australia for fighting today and for having campaigned for so long. I am very proud to bring this bill in today. I hope that it will be a bill that in the new year will be not just a Greens' bill but, indeed, embraced by all in this place—the Labor government, the Liberal opposition, Dignity for Disability, the Xenophon Team and Family First crossbenchers—because we all have much to gain.
We have much to be proud of in those manufacturers who are currently using industrial hemp in a variety of products because it is a clean, green product. It is the very thing that this state says that it aspires to do. We should be supporting those manufacturers, of course, not just to be clean and green with their products but to be able to source those products here in South Australia, to be able to have the cultivation of the raw materials, and not have them imported from interstate or overseas but grown right here in South Australia. It will support jobs and, of course, support better options for more environmentally sustainable farming practices and opportunities for our farmers in this state.
I particularly want to thank the hard work of Di Mieglich, Teresa McDowell, Graeme Parsons, Ruth Trigg and Chris Martin who were part of the exhibition here today and who all had a great involvement in bringing to the fore the knowledge, information and education around industrial hemp. Those members who visited the exhibition, and certainly if they were there while I was there, would know that my favourite product is the Hempcrete, the fire retardant bricks made from industrial hemp. It is basically a product that you cannot help but look at and think that it will completely dispel your ideas that somehow it is an industry in the relics of the past or the Dark Ages. Indeed, when you look at Hempcrete you can see that it is a building block of the future.
I look forward to working with members to see the passage of this bill. As I say, I do not see it as simply a Greens' bill; I see it as a bill for all South Australians if we are to be all true. All parties in this place have at one time or another supported the goals of being clean and green and supporting innovation, and I can imagine that we all support the creation of opportunities and jobs. There is an industry here begging for support. They are not begging for money, they are simply begging to be allowed to do what they know they want to do, what they know they have markets for and what they are already doing in a way that is legal in this state in terms of being able to get local farmers to supply them with their raw materials.
The products are already selling, the products are already being made but we are forcing them to source their raw materials from interstate and overseas. Talk about outsourcing jobs: it is no simpler than that. It is I think a policy no-brainer that we should progress, to ensure, like every other state in Australia has already done, that industrial hemp is able to be cultivated right here in South Australia. With those few words, I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens .