It was pleasing that such a large number of people attended Australia Day Ceremonies last Monday.  These increasingly large attendances are a sign that we place increasing value on the nature of the celebration.

Australia Day means many things to different people but for me more than anything, it is a celebration of who and what we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

Thank you to all the local councils and organising committees for staging such wonderful events around the electorate and congratulations to all those who were recognised for their special contribution to our community.

Applications are now open for the RYDON Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Arts Grant. The grants help support the Hunter / Central Coast regions aboriginal art development through targeted investment into opportunities for young people to learn from indigenous artists and art workers.

The RYDON Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Arts Grant is open to individuals, partnerships and groups. For further information visit Applications close 13th February 2015.

As part of my portfolio work I recently visited a factory on the NSW North Coast where they produce hemp-based food and other products.  The food products they make can be sold for human consumption in most countries but not here in Australia. 

It seems a little weird to me.

When most people here the words “hemp” or “cannabis” they think illegal drugs.  It’s a shame because hemp plant varieties can be grown with minimum psychoactive constituents and therefore, they are not capable of being used as recreational drugs.

Lifting the prohibition of Hemp as a food in Australia will result in significant benefits for the Australian economy and farmers adding value to Industrial Hemp crops and increasing food processing opportunities for local companies while providing substantial health benefits for Australian consumers.  Already the hemp-fibre industry is creating jobs in Australia, including here in our own electorate.

Hemp is one of the most versatile and eco-friendly crops available. Numerous biodegradable products can be made from Hemp including, textiles, building material, paper, a range of composite materials and fuel.  Hemp grows without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides and is a great rotation crop particularly for Australian grain growers.

With an increasing demand for protein rich foods legalising Hemp seed as foods offers Australian primary producers and manufacturers the opportunity to participate in the growing international demand for ‘Super Foods’ of which the Hemp seed is a ‘Super Hero’.

The Canadian Hemp industry was founded in 1998 with support of the Canadian government. Since then cultivation, manufacturing and export of Hemp products has been steadily growing as domestic and international demand rises.  In 2011 Canadian Hemp seed production was approximately 15,500 tonnes with an estimated gross revenue of between $30 to $34 million for farmers.

The total retail value of Hemp products sold throughout the US in 2012, exceeded $500 million. Products ranged from food and body products, textiles, building materials and other industrial products. Of this the estimated value of Hemp-based food and cosmetic sales in the US was approximately $156 to $171 million.

Underpinning the growth in export sales of Hemp-based products is the international demand for Hemp seed health foods. The expanding international Hemp industry represents a great opportunity for Australian farmers and manufacturers.

I’ll be asking some questions when I return to Canberra.

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.


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