Govt rushes medical cannabis bill to get Pauline Hanson's vote

Govt rushes medical cannabis bill to get Pauline Hanson's vote

Politics
POLITICAL MOVES: David Littleproud rushed the bill to support the industry, a move that will coincidentally sure up Pauline Hanson's vote in the Senate.

POLITICAL MOVES: David Littleproud rushed the bill to support the industry, a move that will coincidentally sure up Pauline Hanson's vote in the Senate.

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The government is rushing through legislation that will make it easier to export medical cannabis and hemp products, to gain support from One Nation in the Senate.

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THE federal government has rushed through legislation that will make it easier to export medical cannabis and hemp products, to gain support from One Nation in the Senate.

The Coalition needs One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to vote against extending JobKeeper to universities, foreign-owned companies with local workers and restoring the one-week consultation period for pay cuts.

Ms Hanson has been seeking to expand the nation's medical cannabis opportunities for some time and passing the bill will secure her party's vote in the JobKeeper debate.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud sought to hurry the bill on Wednesday, a move normally reserved for urgent legislation such as privacy protections for the COVIDSafe app.

Labor's leader of Opposition business, Tony Burke said although he suspected his party would support the bill, the political motives behind rushing it were a "high outrage" and "really unreasonable".

"The issue of something passing through the parliament in a single day requires the issue to be of a different gravity," Mr Burke said.

"There is a reason why the standing orders say that after a bill is introduced you don't go straight into the debate on it. To move that we debate it immediately is a big call."

Mr Littleproud said the government was seeking to protect the emerging industry in an uncertain and "high-tension" international trade environment.

"We did not want to see what we've seen in other agricultural industries, particularly barley and the red meat sector, at the moment," Mr Littleproud said, referring to China's recent trade actions.

"This is a sensible action for a government to take to protect the agricultural sector."

Labor agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon was not satisfied with the government's explanation, given it's had years to debate the bill.

"The government have had two or three years to [debate the bill], but mysteriously, suddenly, it now has to be done this week, at a time when the parliament's time is so precious and at a time when we're dealing with an international pandemic - the biggest economic challenge this country has ever faced," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"They want us to circumvent our political processes in this place, but they're not prepared to tell us why."

Although unhappy with the political process, Mr Fitzgibbon said Labor was a "great supporter" of medical cannabis and hemp, and would back the legislation.

The bill will remove unnecessary regulatory barriers and allow certification of legitimate narcotic goods, which many trading countries require to import medical cannabis.

"For Australian farmers, reliable access to overseas markets means increased profitability and certainty for further investment in their properties and people," Mr Littleproud said.

"For the Australian economy, it means more jobs, more exports, and higher incomes in a competitive and profitable agricultural sector.

"For Australians, it means stronger regional communities and a more prosperous and productive Australia."

The bill is yet to reach the Senate floor, however it is expected to be passed when it does.

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