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AS part of the Australian government’s $100m Regional Recovery Partnerships program, to be delivered over two years, it has announced funding of $10m for the Gladstone region.

The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is currently in Central Queensland to support the Beef 2021 event in Rockhampton and make announcements about a number of local initiatives.

He said on local radio, “There’s $10m coming to Gladstone – $5m for a hydrogen hub, $5m for what’s called the Auckland Hill. We want to improve accessibility at the port. It is a great port. We all know that. But we want to make it even better for the tourist experience.

“This hydrogen knowledge hub is going to bring all sorts of, well, minds and intelligence and people together, the experts in the field, to ensure that hydrogen [can] reach its potential.”

Gladstone Ports Corporation welcomed the funding announcement. A spokesperson for the port said, “GPC is proud to support viable opportunities for economic development in the region.

“Initiatives to establish a hydrogen knowledge centre and further develop key recreational areas will benefit the local community and the regional economy.”

Earlier this year, GPC signed a memorandum of understanding with key stakeholders, including CQ University and the Gladstone Regional Council, to develop a hydrogen ecosystem in Gladstone.

Both the National Hydrogen Strategy and the Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019-2024 identify Gladstone as one of the prime locations for hydrogen development due to GPC’s facilities and infrastructure.

“GPC has expansive current and future land holdings with corridors to access more than 28,000 hectares of State Development Area and strategic port land to facilitate future economic development for Queensland,” the spokesperson said.

“Our future port precinct is envisaged to expand and develop to facilitate new trade, ensure prudent, efficient and sustainable growth to benefit our business, our customers and the community.”

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At a media conference at the cruise terminal in Gladstone on 4 May, Mr McCormack said, “I like to think about it as getting technologists to town, technologists who will potentially invest their expertise and their experience in developing new cells for buses, for ferries, for cruise liners based on hydrogen.

“I like to think of it as bringing the best minds to Gladstone to develop this vital piece of the energy mix.”

Mayor of Gladstone Matt Burnett said, “Unfortunately since COVID we haven’t welcomed any cruise ships back, but sooner or later they’ll be back here in Gladstone and checking out our fantastic facilities here at East Shores.

“And some of this money, $5 million goes towards… upgrading here at Auckland Hill. So council, in partnership with the port and the Federal government, will make sure that we can beautify that, so when you’re looking up there as well as down here at East Shores it will all tie in together.”

He said the council, which has been the trustee for Auckland Hill, is in the process of transferring the land to Gladstone Ports Corporation.

The Regional Recovery Partnerships program will co-ordinate investments with all levels of government to support recovery and growth in 10 regions across Australia.

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