Australian Industrial Hemp Conference 2020 - Keynote Speakers



Hon Alannah MacTiernan 

The Hon Alannah MacTiernan has been Western Australia’s Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Minister assisting the Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade since being elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council in 2017. 

Ms. MacTiernan attended the first Australian Industrial Hemp Conference in Geelong in February 2018 and will open the second Conference on 26 February 2020.  

The Minister is committed to creating economic opportunity in regional areas as well as bringing Western Australia’s agricultural sector into the 21st century through innovation and a focus on investing in science.




Dr Michael Robertson

Dr Michael Robertson is Science Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food. He is based in Perth, Western Australia. His research background is in crop agronomy and simulation modelling, where his work has aimed to analyse and understand broadacre farming systems to inform better management regimes for economic, environmental and social outcomes. 

Dr Robertson's research has extended to international activities, primarily on smallholder dryland farming systems in southern Africa and northern China. Since 2009 he has moved into research management roles, whilst maintaining active leadership in research. These roles have involved a national focus and have required integration of research capability from a wide range of disciplines and locations across Australia. Currently he leads an initiative in ‘digital agriculture’ that aims to bring together researchers, information and communication technology experts in CSIRO to explore new ways in which digital technologies can improve the way research is conducted and results are delivered to end users. 

The title of Michael’s talk is ‘Future industries in Australian agriculture’


Professor Tony Bacic

Professor Tony Bacic is Director of the La Trobe Institute for Agriculture & Food (LIAF), La Trobe University, and Director of the newly funded Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub) also at La Trobe University. 

Tony is internationally recognized as a leader in plant biotechnology. His research is focused on the structure, function and biosynthesis of plant cell walls and their biotechnological application, the application of functional genomics tools in biological systems, and more recently the application of these tools to transform the production of plant-derived therapeutics (including cannabis) into an integrated, national industry that spans primary producers and manufacturers. 

The title of Tony’s talk is ‘Cannabis: a plant of many applications and complications!’


Adjunct Professor John Skerritt

Adjunct Professor John Skerritt is Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Health. Apart from being part of the Executive team of that Department, he has line responsibility for the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Office of Drug Control. He was one of the main architects of Australia’s regulatory scheme for medicinal cannabis. 

Although trained in the health sciences, John also worked in the agriculture and agri-food sectors for many years. He was formerly Deputy Secretary for Primary Industries in Victoria, Deputy CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and in the 1990s was a Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Plant Industry. John is the author of almost 300 publications and 10 patents. He has extensive experience in medical, agricultural and environmental policy, as well as regulation, research management, technology application and commercialisation. 

The title of John’s talk is ‘Regulating medicinal cannabis cultivation and manufacture in Australia – It’s not Hemp!’


Dr Amie Hayley

Dr Amie Hayley is an NHMRC Biomedical Early Career Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research examines the neural, biological and neurocognitive processes that underlie performance degradation related to psychoactive substance usage. She is part of the Swinburne Medicinal Cannabis Research Collaboration (MCRC) - Australia’s first, cannabis-only Contract Research Organisation. As part of this appointment, she is currently examining the potential health and medical effects and efficacy of a range of medicinal cannabis products. Her work has featured in leading discipline-specific journals and has attracted numerous awards for her work in drug driving (Dean Award, Research Impact Award and Vice Chancellors Excellence Award). 

The title of Amie’s talk is ‘Health benefits of CBD: Current evidence and future directions’


Mike McGuire

Mike McGuire is the Director of Medical Access and Specialized Authorizations within the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Branch at Health Canada. 

He leads the team responsible for the implementation of the medical access program under the current Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations and future Cannabis Regulations. He is also responsible for the licensing functions related to research, analytical testing, drugs containing cannabis, hemp and import/export. Mike joined the Health Canada team in May 2017 and brought with him nearly 10 years of experience in the federal public service working in regulatory programs, most notably at Transport Canada where he managed the national oversight program for aviation security. Mike holds an undergraduate degree from Carleton University and a graduate degree from the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. 

The title of Mike’s talk is ‘Canada’s approach to the regulation of industrial hemp and cannabis for medical purposes’


Jan Slaski 

Jan Slaski is a Senior Researcher and leader of the Crop Development and Management team with the Ecosystems and Plant Sciences Unit of InnoTech Alberta, Vegreville, Alberta. There he leads research on the introduction and breeding of hemp varieties that suit the needs of the fibre and food industries on the Canadian Prairies. Jan has also conducted extensive studies on best management practices that permit sustainable hemp production under changing environmental conditions. To fully realize the potential residing within industrial hemp, Jan has assembled a research program at InnoTech Alberta that offers solutions from ‘seed to final product’. The Program includes three domains: Breeding and agronomy, fibre processing and product development. 

Since 2012, Jan has served the industry as a director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. 

The title of Jan’s talk is ‘Hemp industry in Canada: Current state and outlook into the future’


Professor Sun Yufeng

As the dean of Daqing branch of Heilongjiang Academy of Sciences, Sun Yufeng is a Senior Researcher on hemp research field. He is also a member of National Bast-crop Professional Committee, chief expert of Heilongjiang Bast-crop (Industry) Collaborative Innovation Promotion System, vice president of Heilongjiang Hemp Industry Alliance.With more than 40 years of bast crop and fibre research, the Daqing Branch of the HAS is the leading research institute in China on flax and industrial hemp breeding and cultivation techniques. Sun led his team to solve the key technical problem of hemp breeding(low THC varieties screening). They developed new THC rapid detection technology and TLC rapid detection technology. He also led many national level project on hemp research field.


Richard Barge

Richard Barge has been the Treasurer of the NZ Hemp Industries Association Incorporated since 1998 and in 2019 became the Chairman. In the past Richard has been a qualified accountant and worked in both industry and practice in New Zealand, the UK and Cook Islands. Richard has two hemp companies Hemptastic NZ Limited and Hemp Seed Foods and has been passionate about the hemp industry since 1994. 

He looks forward to presenting a snapshot of the NZ industry to the conference and highlighting the issues faced by the iHemp industry and the priorities for the NZHIA in 2020. 

The title of Richard’s talk is ‘An update on the NZ industrial hemp industry and the issues we face in 2020’

Assoc. Prof. Malgorzata Zimniewska

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Malgorzata Zimniewska is Director of the Institute of Natural Fibres & Medicinal Plants in Lodz, Poland. Her main area of interest is the development of linen and hemp fiber processing and evaluation technologies to meet the specific needs of different fiber applications. A favoured area of research is the development of pro-health textiles that have a positive influence on human physiology. She has been a Member of the Textile Institute since 1996 and is currently the Chair of the Polish Section of Textile Institute. She also serves as Vice-Chair of Quality Control for the European Commission Research Executive Agency for Future and Emerging Technologies and as an Expert on multiple taskforces including the ICAC Task Force on the Challenges from Competing Fibers, the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing EURATEX and the National Centre for Research and Development in Poland. Malgorzata Zimniewska has led many international, European and national projects in order to develop of new technologies and innovative solutions for flax and hemp. 

The title of Malgorzata’s talk is ‘Potential of industrial hemp in Poland – challenges and opportunities’

Jo Townshend

Jo Townshend is the R&D Manager for the Midlands Group based in Ashburton, New Zealand.  Midlands is an export-oriented company specialising in the production of stock seeds, arable foods and oils.  They have a local subsidiary - Midlands Seed Tasmania Ltd. 

Jo is a Research Agronomist by trade and has over 20 years’ experience in applied agronomic research trialling for grain and seed production in more than 30 species.  Jo has been the R&D Manager for Midlands for the past 13 years, every year of which Industrial Hemp trials or productions have been conducted.  Jo’s work aims to produce Best Crop Management guidelines covering all aspects of crop production for growers. Jo has published peer review papers with the likes of the Agronomy Society of NZ, NZ Plant Protection and the American Phytopathology Society.  Jo is currently Vice President of the Agronomy Society of NZ after being Treasurer for several years. 

The title of Jo’s talk is ‘Reflections on hemp variety trials to date in Australia and NZ’


Jeff Kostuik

Jeff has been involved in hemp research since it was legalized in 1998. He is renowned for his strong applied research background that provides benchmarks for the hemp industry and which has assisted in the success of producers in the burgeoning hemp industry. Jeff is passionate about hemp and the opportunities that are available whether it be through use of the fiber, grain, oil or as a nutraceutical. 

In 2015, Jeff began a new career with Hemp Genetics International (HGI) where he takes a lead role in sharing his agronomy knowledge to HGI’s clients. Along with his work with HGI, Jeff is an enthusiastic hemp farmer working with his brother in law on the family farm producing pedigreed hemp seed. Jeff is a Certified Crop Advisor and member of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. Jeff is a former director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. 

The title of Jeff’s talk is ‘Growing quality hemp hemp for food, fibre or CBD’
  Mark Reinders 

Mark Reinders is CEO of the HempFlax group of companies. He is one of the most creative, practical and experienced professionals in the field of European hemp. Mark tirelessly researches, implements and promotes both environmentally responsible and sustainable manufacturing processes, and new uses for hemp. 

Mark grew up on his family’s farm, one of the first to grow hemp for HempFlax. A six-month internship at HempFlax in 2002 further encouraged his interest in the long-neglected traditional Dutch crop. Experience at agricultural and recycling companies convinced him that sustainable practices should be implemented right from the beginning of any supply chain. Returning to HempFlax as Vice President in 2008, he has implemented this vision with dedication and success. As CEO, he continues to strive for the highest possible standards. His dedication to innovation in every stage of the hemp process, from seed to finished product, has made HempFlax a world leader in the industry. Mark is currently CEO of HempFlax Group of companies and is president of the European Industrial Hemp Association. 

The title of Mark’s talk is ‘Whole crop utilization, capturing several revenue streams with the right technology’

  Mehra Jehangir 

Mehra Jehangir is leading the Consumer and Retail Division at Global Data Australia. Prior to this appointment, Mehra managed the Consumer Division at Euromonitor international for Australasia where she advised FMCGs and local companies on business strategy, innovation, private labelling and sustainability. 

Mehra has worked for FMCGs in Australasia and Asia Pacific for over a decade and is an advisor to the C-suite of many of Australia’s leading companies. Her main industry focus is on Consumer and Retail, but she also has worked extensively with Foodservice clients. 

The title of Mehra’s talk is ‘TrendSights – Sensory & Indulgence: Cannabis’
  Paul Mavor 

Paul is a registered Australian and UK pharmacist.  His company Health House was granted the first medicinal cannabis import license in Australia and he is currently distributing medicinal cannabis products to eligible patients. Over the last 30 years he has owned several retail pharmacies and worked both in Australia and the UK. In the last 4 years he has focussed on researching medicinal cannabis and has been to conferences, grow and manufacturing facilities and spoken to patients and prescribers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Israel and South America. 

The title of Paul’s talk is ‘A Global Overview of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry’
  Assistant Professor Fabien Delhomme  

Fabien Delhomme is Assistant Professor in the department of Civil Engineering and Urban Planning of National Institute of Applied Science (INSA) of Lyon in France. He received his PhD from University of Savoie at Chambéry in 2005. He worked one year in University of Strasbourg before joining INSA Lyon. He spent 6 months in UNSW in Australia as a visiting Professor. His research field is the design of concrete structures for severe loading conditions from bio-based building materials. 

The title of Fabien’s talk is ‘Australian Hemp characterisation: mechanical, thermal and acoustic properties’

    Carl Martel 

Carl Martel is an independent scientist who has been researching in the field of industrial cannabis for over a decade. Formally trained as a geoarchaeologist with degrees in Interdisciplinary Science. Carl’s areas of research include plant carbons for energy storage, green extraction solutions and harvest/processing innovations. Carl currently consults with hemp companies in Canada, United States, Europe, Australia and South America. Co-Founder of American Harvest Inc, Co-Founder of Natural Design Research Institute in Australia, Founder of Advanced Hemp Technologies and Co-inventor of a grain disinfection system. Carl continues to explore and develop quality post-harvest management systems. His passion is developing processing solutions and products that encourage whole plant utilization including value added products from agricultural waste.