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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6553

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (16:56): Several weeks ago I was accompanied by the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, who is at the table, to announce a grant of $1,046,000 from the carbon price revenue for clean technology, which will help a specialist Tasmanian manufacturer reduce the carbon emissions intensity of their operations by 39 per cent and save up to $300,000 in energy costs per year. The company in question is Tasmanian Alkaloids in Westbury, who are proposing to install state-of-the-art evaporation technology to replace an old, less efficient method of concentrating solutions when extracting alkaloids from poppy straw. The total value of the proposal to be part-funded as part of the government's Clean Technology Investment Program is $3.139 million. Tasmanian Alkaloids is Australia's largest manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients derived from opium poppies and the largest global exporter of codeine phosphate and thebaine.

Manufacturers can invest in energy efficient capital equipment and low-emissions technology on any scale to make a difference. This project is a great example of how there is now new clean equipment for production. The new process involves a piece of equipment called a centritherm, which is effectively a spinning cone that evaporates up to 90 per cent of the solvent used in extracting alkaloids. The process now will use far less steam while generating the same output and in turn will reduce the site's gas consumption. Tasmanian Alkaloids had already committed to lessen their gas usage and had made a significant financial commitment of their own—over $2 million—to this project. This government program has allowed them to proceed sooner rather than later. They realise the importance of making improvements to manufacturing processes so they can continue to manufacture goods in Australia. The Clean Technology Investment Program and the Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program provide grants for Australian manufacturers to invest in energy efficient capital equipment and low-emissions technologies, products and processes, and are a great incentive for established companies to take on the latest technology.

So Tasmanian Alkaloids Pty Ltd was well placed to attract an energy efficiency grant. It is the world's largest producer of narcotic raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. Exports are primarily to the established market in the US and Europe. Success has been achieved by long-term investment in research and development and reliable poppy production in Tasmania. The most notable innovations are patented mutant poppies producing opium alkaloids, which are only present to a minor extent in conventional poppies. These are thebaine, codeine and oripavine, whereas conventionally morphine is the principal alkaloid. Most of the morphine produced in the world is chemically converted to codeine, so it is beneficial to grow the codeine directly in poppies and save costs, energy and equipment as well as reducing waste.

Tasmanian Alkaloids employs 190 people, including 30 in agricultural and chemical R&D. During the harvest period this number grows by about 35 people. (Time expired)

House adjourned at 17:02