GREG'S LEGACY

Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Hemp plan resurrected by Denise Allen

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Myrtleford is in a real bind with the future use of tobacco fields. With the residual toxins, they are very limited in what crops or stock can be run on their properties.

Unlike the King Valley that converted to grapes, Myrtleford does not have that option with the glut in the wine industry expected to last a few more years. It seems they may be restricted to non food-chain crops. Already, corn for ethanol production has been muted. Now comes another option in industrial hemp. Read on …

Industry ‘could replace tobacco’
BY DI THOMAS

FORMER Labor member for Benalla, Denise Allen, has revived a 2002 proposal to develop an alternative fibre industry in the North East to create jobs and development to counter the tobacco industry’s pending demise.

However, she and the proposal’s author, Andrew Gemmell, fear the historical opposition to the industry from overseas cotton and synthetic manufacturers and those concerned about the cultivation of industrial hemp stymied the proposal in 2002 and may see it set aside again.

Ms Allen, who will stand as a candidate for the Northern Victoria Upper House seat for the new party People Power at next month’s state election, said a plan had been developed by Mr Gemmell to grow industrial hemp, bamboo and flax in the Myrtleford area and other parts of the North East.

“The plan was not to take over the timber industry but to complement it and to be a replacement for the subsequent demise of the tobacco industry,” Ms Allen said.

She said disused mills could be helped back into action with state and federal government grants to buy necessary processing equipment and workers could be re-employed in the growing and processing of the fibre.

Ms Allen said she understood from Mr Gemmell’s research that chipboard could be made from industrial hemp which was three times stronger than other chipboards, providing the means by which strong kit homes could be manufactured for Aboriginal communities, and exported to Third World countries and those hit by natural disaster and damage as the result of war.

A report made by Mr Gemmell in March, 2002, says a focus on natural fibres grown and processed in Victoria would be preferable to petrochemical synthetic fibres produced and controlled by overseas-based multinational corporations.

Yesterday Mr Gemmell said hemp fibre crops took just three months to grow, producing up to four crops a year.

A plan to undertake a trial processing of the fibre at a North East plant had been set aside by a change in management personnel and Mr Gemmell confirmed his proposal had been countered by those who equated the growing of hemp with the cultivation of the illegal drug as well as competition from the international manufacturers of synthetic fibres.

However, he said he was happy to see his proposal had been again raised by Ms Allen.

“I suspect it won’t get off the ground again for the same reasons.”

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Written by Greg Naylor

7 October 2006 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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