The Controlled Substances (Opium Cultivation) Amendment Bill successfully passed through Parliament today after being introduced by Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, David Ridgway earlier this year.
Mr Ridgway was optimistic about the opportunities this legislation will provide South Australian farmers, particularly in the State’s South East.
“I’m delighted that we have been able to open up another industry for South Australian farmers,” said Mr Ridgway.
“South Australia is now on a level playing field with Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory where they have been farming opium poppies with a great deal of success.
“At a time when some of our South East farmers are doing it tough, this could be a valuable crop to add to a farmer’s rotation.”
In Tasmania, which currently produces 80% of the world’s legal opium poppies, the production of opiates increased by 124% between 2008 and 2013, indicating the demand for the crop is continually increasing.
“Opium poppies are used in the production of a wide range of painkillers including morphine, codeine, Nurofen Plus and Panadeine. Given the world’s ageing population this demand will only continue to grow,” said Mr Ridgway.
“That’s why it is important for South Australia to get into the market now and give our farmers every possible chance to capitalise on this growing demand.
“We’ve had a great deal of interest from farmers in the South East so I’m optimistic about this industry talking off as early as next year.”
Mr Ridgway said he was grateful for the support of the South Australian farmers, pharmaceutical companies and the Government which supported this Bill.
“I now look forward to working with PIRSA and the Government to ensure the necessary regulations are implemented as soon as possible to give farmers the earliest available opportunity to get the opium poppy industry up and running in South Australia.”