Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind the establishment of a container terminal in the Port of Newcastle.
The proposal, which is estimated would attract $1.8 billion of private investment and generate more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the national economy, was among several key issues discussed during a meeting between the Prime Minister and port representatives on Thursday.
Port executive Craig Carmody welcomed Mr Morrison's support for the port, in particular the $2.4 billion Multipurpose Deepwater Terminal project.
"The Prime Minister's visit is reflective of the importance of the port to the economy and the relevance of our diversification plans to the government's agenda," he said.
Mr Carmody said he discussed opportunities for the Commonwealth to support the port's diversification plans in a number of areas for the benefit of the region and the nation.
Earlier Mr Morrision indicated he would allow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Federal Court action against the NSW Ports consortium and the state government to run its course, however, he ultimately wanted the container terminal issue to be resolved.
"I want to ensure that Newcastle can deliver all of the services that this region needs for it to be successful," he said.
"There are some processes underway that are addressing those issues....Let me be very clear about the outcome I want to see, whether it's the port in Newcastle or the port in Townsville or Gladstone, I want these ports be able to service the regions as fully and as competitively as is possible.
"As the Prime Minister I know what's needed here and that's a Port of Newcastle that works for the Hunter because when that happens the Hunter is able to do more for Australia."
The potential for Hydrogen to play a key role in the Hunter's economic transition was also discussed at Thursday's meeting.
It followed last month's announcement by National Energy Resources Australia that the Hunter will host one of 13 hydrogen clusters across Australia.
The initiative is part of a push to support growth and industry collaboration within the emerging multi-billion dollar green fuel industry.
The region's highly skilled energy and resources workforce coupled with expertise in advanced manufacturing were compelling reasons to locate the state's only cluster in the Hunter.
The cluster's partners include the University of Newcastle, TAFE, HunterNet, the Hunter Business Chamber, the Australian Industry Group, and the Hunter Hydrogen Taskforce.
Mr Carmody said the Port had an important role to play in facilitating new and emerging markets such as hydrogen. He added the government's support has been important in establishing hydrogen as a viable opportunity.
"This remains an exciting project that will turbo-charge the local economy to the tune of $1.3 billion and create a more cost-competitive supply chain for NSW businesses that trade internationally," he said.
"Once penalties on container trade through the port are removed, Port of Newcastle is keen to move forward with the project and fuel the jobs and economic opportunities it will bring with it."
The Port of Newcastle has previously been identified as a potential hub for the production and distribution of energy streams including hydrogen, LNG and solar, in addition to facilitating existing trade in thermal coal and liquid fuel.
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