Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:49:53) — I would just like to rise to speak for a few moments on this omnibus Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. I specifically want to speak about the amendments to the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 in part 4 of the bill. This is in regard to the regulation of industrial hemp. I am pleased with the amendments because they make it a little bit easier for hemp farmers to operate in Victoria. The hemp industry is growing significantly in Victoria. There are around 30 licences now. We saw almost a doubling in licences after the announcement that Australia would finally allow the sale of hemp seed as food. I think we were the last country in the world to allow hemp seed as food. So we will see an expansion of this industry in a great way.
I want to use this moment to encourage the government to really assist this fast-growing industry. I think the regulations for this industry are still somewhat onerous. I understand that the regulations are being reviewed at the moment and that they will sunset in August this year, so I encourage the government when going through that review of the further regulations for industrial hemp to look at trying to streamline them and making it as easy as possible for this industry to flourish in Victoria. We have a great climate for it.
The technology that is emerging from this quite extraordinary plant is really exciting. I was fortunate to be at MardiGrass on the weekend, which looked at the low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products of hemp. I saw some really interesting nanofibre technology up there — basically chopping up hemp, mixing it with water and making an extraordinarily strong and flexible product. It is a product that now Mercedes and BMW are using as a composite to start building their cars. It is something that can work in 3D printing. It can be an alternative to the very expensive graphene.
There has also been amazing work looking at using some of the hemp fibres and some of this technology in rechargeable batteries. So everything from a food to a medicine to a battery can be made from this extraordinary plant, and I think Victoria is very well placed to hopefully assist this industry to grow and also assist in the advanced manufacturing that could occur from this industry. I really encourage the government to work with that industry closely in expanding it.
Just on one final point, last year when we allowed hemp seed to be used in food that was one step, but we do not allow the stalks or the leaves to be used as food. This is a product that has no THC; it has high cannabidiol (CBD). So to make a CBD oil you need the leaves and the stalks. The CBD, the cannabidiol, that is such a great medicine is not found in the seed of the hemp plant; it is found in the stalks and the leaves. But we prohibit the stalks and the leaves of the hemp plant from being used even though it is not psychoactive at all. So I encourage the government in reviewing those regulations to reconsider the use of the whole of the plant as a food. As we have seen in many other countries, the whole of the plant is used as a food for animals and other livestock. Again, this is an opportunity for this crop, which is also a great rotational crop, but because of the licensing requirements it makes it a little bit more difficult for farmers to use that rotation method.
Just finally I encourage the government to consider this industry. I think it is a very exciting time, and I believe that we could use this industry to kickstart a lot of manufacturing industries in this country and particularly in Victoria. I commend this bill. I am sorry that I cannot talk about broiler chickens more, but maybe next time.