23 Feb 2023, 12:01
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan):
My question is for the Minister for Agriculture, Ms Tierney, in relation to hemp. Hemp is a remarkable plant with a multitude of applications, from clothing to construction and many things in between. It should be the future of paper, and it can be. Environmentally, it is an incredible carbon sink. Hemp-based bioplastics are light and strong but also biodegradable and renewable. Hemp has so much potential for Victorian agriculture and the Victorian economy more broadly, so my question for the minister is: will she reconstitute the hemp task force that existed in the last term of Parliament to continue its positive role in building the Victorian hemp industry?
Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture)
I thank the member for what is a really good question. I remind the house that there has been some fantastic work done in this area by former agriculture ministers and in particular ministers Jaala Pulford and Jac Symes and others, and that was because we understood that there were some serious possibilities in terms of an emerging industry. We have done a number of things to establish the sector, and the advisory committee was established. Going to our history, we were the first state to legalise access to medicinal cannabis for patients in exceptional circumstances, in 2016, and we continue to lead the way and wish to cement our position with the aim of being the medicinal cannabis hub. But in terms of other emerging industries that are related to it, we want to continue to explore that. In terms of the specifics of the question you asked me, I will take that on notice.
I thank the minister for her response. By way of a supplementary, I ask: what work is your department currently undertaking to advance the recommendations of the task force from the last Parliament?
I thank the member for her question and her keen interest in this area. This is a question that basically pertains to the time since the last Parliament, which is not all that long, and I have got to say that there have been a couple of other things that have preoccupied my time and attention in the agriculture portfolio. But needless to say, it does continue to be an area of real, genuine interest within Agriculture Victoria, and I am more than happy to provide you with that information.