A WORKERS' co-operative wants to establish a hemp clothing business using industrial cannabis grown on the Border.
Earthworker Co-operative is pursuing a plan to have clothing for construction workers and emergency services made from hemp as part of a push for greater manufacturing in Australia.
Its organiser Dave Kerin, who has a union background, said he wanted enterprise bargaining agreements for uniformed personnel to specify that protective clothing comes from Australia, opening the door to hemp-based apparel.
"If we were aimed a the private market, we couldn't compete, but the idea of the social market, where workers can take it as part of an EBA is different," Mr Kerin said.
"We're putting out feelers with workers to see if they can have that option and...we're putting feelers out in Albury-Wodonga to see if there's interest from the growing side.
"It's early doors but we're keen to get our textile industry going in this country again."
The Melbourne-based co-operative took over a solar hot water business in Dandenong and has been attempting to build up that enterprise and would like to have a textile mill on the Border for hemp processing.
Mr Kerin said he was attracted to the Border through the environmental enthusiasm of the region's school children that he had hosted on tours in Melbourne.
The president and founder of the Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria, Lyn Stephenson, said there should no impediment to propagating the crop on the Border.
"Theoretically you should be able to grow hemp wherever you grow wheat," Ms Stephenson said.
However, Ms Stephenson said Australia had no hemp fibre processing, with the plant largely grown for its seed which is formed into oil.
"At the moment the only real option is to export for processing overseas," Ms Stephenson said.
The Kyneton grower said it was tricky to export hemp for processing as current methods meant the lightly weighted fibre was uncompacted and there was excess airspace in containers.