There is great potential in Australia for developing the production and marketing of industrial hemp. Traditionally there has been resistance to growing hemp because of its association with the cannabis plant. Hemp is similar in appearance to the Cannabis plant but does not possess the same characteristics which have caused Cannabis to be banned. Hemp is suited to being grown in our part of the world. It has a number of positive attributes and should be considered for production.
It is currently illegal to grow hemp in New South Wales and if this situation were to change there are a number of ways the plant can be utilised, from the seed to the stalk and leaves. Hemp can be used to produce clothing, oils, and building materials whilst the leaves can be used as fodder. Hemp has a relatively low water usage, requires very little chemical application and would be very suitable as a rotation crop.
There are challenges to introducing this as a potential agricultural product in our region. There will need to be a critical mass of farmers investing in trials before the true value can be established. There are a variety of opportunities for value adding to hemp, but the infrastructure needs to be in place in order to manufacture final products.
We need to look at the crops that are best suited to our environment, are sustainable and environmentally friendly. If changes are made to current legislation, industrial hemp could be a good choice for farmers.
RDA Orana and the Macquarie 2100 group have partnered to host a forum at Narromine on Monday 13th October, providing an opportunity for farmers and interested parties to learn more about hemp. I congratulate the Macquarie 2100 group who have worked to bring this issue up for discussion.
The Coalition is making a significant investment in Mobile Phone Coverage through the $100 million black spot programme. The Department of Communications has made an interactive map of over 6000 black spot nominations across the country.
The competitive selection process for the additional base stations will begin shortly with a view to announcing the first locations in the first half of 2015. After almost 7 years of zero investment from the Rudd- Gillard- Rudd Labor Governments in mobile phone infrastructure, I am pleased that the Coalition is implementing the $100 million mobile blackspot programme.