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Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Page: 3381

Senator KENEALLY (New South WalesDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (09:38): Labor supports the passage of the Export Control Legislation Amendment (Certification of Narcotic Exports) Bill 2020. The bill seeks to change the definition of 'goods' in the act to include narcotic goods, which will support the legitimate export of narcotic goods, in alignment with foreign country import requirements. Labor unequivocally supports the bill. We think it is time for the government to harness the full potential of this crop. In the explanatory memorandum, the minister claims the amendment will 'remove unnecessary and unintended regulatory barriers on the trade of Australian hemp products'. We agree. Hemp is a product that is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Despite its low THC level, the full utilisation of this plant—including for medicinal purposes, local consumption, textiles, oil and exporting—has historically been prevented due to misinformation about its narcotic character. Labor encourages the growth and development of the hemp industry. It should be legal to ingest, cultivate and produce hemp products in all states in Australia. Hemp is an environmentally friendly crop. It provides opportunities for value adding an export growth.

It is also time to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to medicinal cannabis, starting with responding to the recommendations made by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee. Australian agriculture has been hard hit by the protracted drought, bushfires and now COVID-19. At every step of the way, this government has failed to respond to the needs of the sector in a timely manner. Sadly, this is just another example of the government's failure to provide a strategic, well-informed plan for Australian agriculture.

The National Farmers' Federation have put forward their vision to grow Australian agriculture to $100 billion in farmgate output by 2030. However, the NFF have made it clear that the Morrison government will need to play a central role by stepping up with developing a national strategy for agriculture. Farmers and regional communities are doing it tough and they are missing out on critical export opportunities, such as in hemp, because this government cannot get its act together.

As previously mentioned, Labor supports the substance of this bill. But we urge this third-term government to stop taking for granted the resilience of our farmers and regional communities. Start developing a competency plan for agriculture that addresses long-term drought resilience and allows farmers to capitalise on emerging opportunities, through innovative solutions, to address future challenges that will impact the value of the sector.