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Jacqui Lambie fights for poppy industry

North Motton farmer Glynn Williams with with his poppy crop. Senator Jacqui Lambie talks with reporter Adam Langenberg.
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INDEPENDENT Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie says she won’t let up her lobbying against the growth of a poppy industry outside Tasmania.

President of the Tasmanian Poppy Growers Association Glynn Williams said Senator Lambie invited him to a meeting that she had recently with federal Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash to argue against the fledgling mainland commercial poppy industry.

Mr Williams said it was a positive meeting.

He said he was pleased with the way recent meetings had gone with the federal government on this issue.

Senator Lambie made it known that she also wants to meet new Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on poppies.

“It’s ours. It’s our birthright and it is staying there and nobody else is getting it,” Senator Lambie said in a report.

Mr Williams said a recent change in the poppy market and a significant drop in demand for opiates in the United States meant fewer poppies would need to be produced.

He said he left the meeting with the minister knowing that she was well aware of this change.

Tasmanian poppy growers do not see commercial poppy growing on the mainland as necessary at all.

Mr Williams said yesterday that it was not something that may be of benefit to the Australian industry at this time because of the developments in overseas markets and the drop-off in demand.

“There’s no doubt that a lot has changed since the federal cabinet made its in-principle decision, and in my view the Assistant Health Minister is aware of the change in the market and she is asking some very specific questions,” Mr Williams said.

In the meantime, Tasmania had a very strong competitive advantage in poppy growing over the other states.

Mr Williams said the climatic situation meant much of Victoria was in severe drought and was being affected by heatwaves, whereas Tasmania was not.

He said Tasmanian irrigation schemes had added to the state’s greater reliability in growing poppies, and poppy growers in Tasmania had remained confident in the state’s $90 million opiate industry, first established 40 years ago, despite the federal government’s decision to revoke its poppy growing monopoly.

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