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Monday, 22 March 2004
Page: 26788

Mr MURPHY (4:20 PM) —Mr Speaker, my first question is whether you have seen a notice to all senators and members today from the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Usher of the Black Rod saying that Ecofibre Industries has provided a 10-kilogram bag of hemp mulch for each senator and member as a free promotional gift and inviting each member and senator to indicate whether they would like the product to be delivered to their Parliament House suites. The second question is: bearing in mind an article which appeared in the Canberra Times on Saturday by David McLennan entitled `Free hemp on offer for pollies as our Parliament goes to pot,' which concluded, `No decision has been made on what happens with any left-over hemp mulch, although there would be a good chance it ends up on Parliament's gardens rather than at any Canberra parties,' and bearing in mind also that I do not intend to collect my 10 kilograms of hemp, what guarantee can you give—or, dare I suggest, can one of the joint house committees give—that any uncollected hemp be safely disposed of?

The SPEAKER —Let me point out to the member for Lowe that, whilst I will follow the matter up, my understanding is that we are talking about hemp which is an industrial product. In fact, I understand that, at a research centre within 10 kilometres of my electorate office, this material is being developed and grown for industrial purposes. It bears very little or no relationship to hemp in the drug form and it poses no hazard to anybody or it would not be tolerated. That is my understanding. If I am in error, I will let the member for Lowe know. But I think that if he were to consult with some of his colleagues—including the member for Blaxland, who appears to be well informed on the matter—he will be reassured that I am right.