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Reefer madness hits Jacqui Burke

johnboy 24 April 2006 18

There isn’t much patronage to be exerted from the opposition benches in a period of majority Government. Just about the only thing you can do is put out a media release and hope someone in the media bites. That’s one reason why I was loathe to touch Jacqui Burke’s latest effort on wanting more “Support” for the local hemp industry.

Jacqui acknowledges that there are no legislative hurdles remaining to growing industrial (non-smokeable) hemp in the ACT. Now she want’s hand-outs. I should note I don’t know if Jacqui has any connections to “a Canberra based marketing company, merged with other interested parties to form a new Australian company called Golden Green Pty Ltd” it is always possible she’s just really stupid.

So stupid as to think bringing a major new industry (assuming the unlikely best case scenario of giving money to this marketing company) would solve and not exacerbate problems such as skills shortages and a lack of affordable and suitable housing. I’m not saying this is reason to discourage industry, but lets not kid ourselves that a blue sky industry is actually going to solve our problems for us.

I maintain that it is better to create an environment conducive to all business and let real business people determine for themselves how they will allocate capital, rather than try to “pick winners”. So called “picking winners” rewards the politically well connected business, not the effective or efficient.

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18 Responses to Reefer madness hits Jacqui Burke
Thumper 10:54 am 27 Apr 06

Canberra climate?

What's the problem?

bloody hot and dry in summer. Bloody cold and dry in winter. And somewhere in between at other times of the year.

Indi 10:40 am 27 Apr 06

The climate issue is interesting - a cursory check brought this site up:

A comprehensive list of countries with differing climates appear to have put in place some form of industrial hemp growing, what seems to be a stumbling point for some markets is the lack of investment in processing plants for the growers to 'sell on' the raw product.

I'd agree Mael, some comprehensive testing of sites for growing suitability would have to be undertaken by any interested commercial parties (in consultation with govt).

I can just see the stumbling point more likely to be with planning authorities about any use of (appropriate) sites that won't impact on a) future development and b) can be managed effectively to see a viable industry emerge.

Maelinar 9:35 am 27 Apr 06

Indi, I'm guessing that the certain European countries have a moderate climate and high rainfall density, both of which are not present here in the ACT.

I'm not saying it's a dumb idea fullstop, it's just a dumb idea considering the ACT climate.

And I haven't even gotten onto the clay based soils that you can't even get a decent lawn off yet unless you intensively irrigate and most probably, ship in topsoil.

Allow me to put it another way;

There's a reason why Nimbin is famous, look at the climate there and compare it to Canberra. Similar ?

Indi 9:14 am 27 Apr 06

Mael - hemp is grown and processed in certain European countries right don't need a 'snow resistent wonder weed', from my understanding of cropping, all crops are sown depending on season.

I seem to recall that Mr Stanhope held the same opinion concerning the weather...damnt it, we are always blaming our weather for not being able to do anything these days.

Maelinar 4:22 pm 26 Apr 06


One major problem, from a non-commercial grower with a thumb that is about as green as Deb Foskey is a responsible public tennant.

Hemp doesn't grow in the snow.

The reason that pines were the forte for many a year, is they will.

So not only will they need to come up with a new strain of hemp, the alpine resistant non THC bearing kind, then they will magically plant it where ?

Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that the gumnuts will scrap their plans for 'Corbell', 'Hargreaves' and 'Stanhope Heights' as easily as JBurke can come up with her new magical snow-resistant wonder-weed. That land's already taken, and by god they'd better not be thinking of chopping down remnant forest in order to start planting. Which pretty much just leaves us with Canturf near Fyshwick, and a few isolated pockets that aren't really capable of being a commercial operation.

Let's just get our heads out of the proverbial smoke-clouds, one of the easiest ways for the police to nab drug growers is to combine a thermal sight device with a helicopter and go fly around the place. Heat isn't something Canberra is famous for, especially at this time of the year.

And I'm not the gardening specialist here, I'm sure there are RA readers who could fill us in on the intimate requirements of hemp growing in the ACT...

johnboy 3:51 pm 26 Apr 06

Can I please have a suitable tract of land too?

Indi 3:46 pm 26 Apr 06

There is perhaps an oversight here - the release seems to be implying that govt should 'join' in and promote and facilitate (or whatever) this industry in the ACT.

It sounds like some job creation and tax benefits for ACT govt if the right tract of land could be found - maybe this is all the govt involvement needed, rather than what seems to be spouted here as 'some company looking for a handout'.

johnboy 3:53 pm 24 Apr 06

sorry, having trouble comprehending you here...

because public servants read the site we're in some way owned by the government?

wow, have the CT and SMH got a surprise coming!

Sssanta 1:41 pm 24 Apr 06

No a tanty is far from it. Goading won't bring it on either. As far as public money goes, there at least four people involved in RA currently sucking off the public teat (salaries). Five if you count Austudy.

The public service has done a quite a few favours that very few organisations it seems were willing JB.

Quite ironic most of them are fellow public servants?

RandomGit 1:18 pm 24 Apr 06

Ssanta, by 'pubes' I assume you actually mean, RiotACT is a boondoggle for getting up your nose?

johnboy 1:16 pm 24 Apr 06

awww, santa's having a tanty!

as we don't take any public money your accusations have no basis.

Sssanta 1:09 pm 24 Apr 06

RiotACT is the boondoggle that prevents pubes from doing their real job. Ensuring that public resources are spent wisely and in a manner that is commensurate with a majority of the public wishes is what politicians and public servants do.

Much like your job at the moment is taking the Miranda Devine tack and yabbering about a topic that gives you the ability to air your left of ghengis khan views, take the usual stab at the public sector and unfortunately, show what happens when current affairs and opinion is garnered from a bunch from photocopies and press releases rather than practical experience in actually servicing the needs of a community.

But then again, I am sure that was the major genesis for this jobby anyways.

bonfire 12:40 pm 24 Apr 06

normally i would agree with johnboy vis a vis public resources used to start provate ventures. however as a city state with a symbiotic relationship with govt services, its wise for government to take a strategic view and look for other opportunities. hemp may be one of those i dont know, ive not seen a business case (and a media release is not a business case). view the hemp issue as a straw man for debating purposes perhaps.

i look at the empty pine forests and think that something could be growing there, that could generate income, employ the former forestry workers and prevent weed infestations.

govt could try and fund other things instead of looking for federal handouts or private industry to step up.

if they establish a busniness (whether that be hemp, mung beans or pharaceuticals)and then float it, that would be a good use of taxpayers money.

singapore govt has been doing this for 40 years - successfully. we have ltd natural resources in act - people and brains are all we have.

kudos for AN idea, even if its not a good one. is anyone else in this debate ?

johnboy 12:18 pm 24 Apr 06

It's a boondoggle which gives politicians and public servants something more exciting to do than their real jobs.

But worse than that it creates industries which by definition weren't viable without treatment which discriminates against other sectors of the economy.

erewego 11:57 am 24 Apr 06

Im sure Canberra doesnt suffer from skills shortages of people to grow hemp!

Good luck competing vs end product from say...China

Rather than wasting public money on this white elephant, - how about ...THE MOST POPULAR WORK FOR THE DOLE PROGRAM OF ALL TIME

Sssanta 11:55 am 24 Apr 06

The only way to increase the amount of public funding is to increase the size of the ACT economy, thus gaining more tax dollars. It is in this sense, we need to be careful with the dollars we are pouring into business assistance in the ACT. Again, we cannot hope to compete against the Sydney sized econimies on our doorstep, we have to ensure that the businesses we attract the the ACT are those that offer the most benfit to our small economy and expertise locally. If Hemp is one of those, so be it.

Your last sentence in your last comment sums up the problem that any public officer involved in the output of public funding addresses on a daily basis through their work output (hopefully).

If we were to place no public resources into the private sector, very little new business oppourtunities would be forged. One of the main roles of government as a whole is to faciltate and provide the right environment for businesses, industries and economies to grow, improve and evolve.

Trade and economic improvement are dicey areas to discuss on a site such as this, with a distinct lack of moderators with direct experience in this sector.

johnboy 11:31 am 24 Apr 06

I'm saying we shouldn't be placing any public resources into the private sector.

but as those public resources are taken from the private sector in the first place we should be taking as little as possible.

Sssanta 11:15 am 24 Apr 06


To me Jacqui is on the right track. The positioning and size of the ACT and its economy means we have to be careful where we place public resources in terms of business inducement and infrastructure. Your last paragraph although well meaning, seems to have forgotten that fact that we are three hours from Sydney. Providing a level field that enables business competiveness accross the board for all industries will be wasting an already scare reosuce in the ACT, public funding. We cannot compete with Sydney due to scale and size of economies.

A quick look at the BusinessACT website and others such as ACTCCI, ABL, etc you will see that strategic business invesment is the best way for ACT funds to be spent.

Point in case, the ACT looks at high-end tech, education and (eco)tourism as our biggest growth areas. The promotion of non-smoking weed if it was toi go ahead would provide placement in niche market that bigger states would probably pass on. it is options like this that the ACT needs to look at. If we have clear competition here in Aust., this will make international competiveness just a little bit easier.

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