The Liberals and Nationals have always believed that people should be backed in to have the opportunity to make their own choices about their future. It's what I mean when I say our government is all about a fair go for those who have a go.
When my government came together to address how we would continue to address the challenge of climate change, and respond to the significant changes taking place in the world economy as more and more countries were reducing their emissions, the Hunter Region was foremost in my mind.
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I wasn't going to sign up to a plan that would ask Australians to sign a blank cheque, accept change at any cost, shut things down, risk jobs or legislate people out of work.
Instead, we chose to back the Hunter's proud mining and industrial base and the workers who have helped make you the strongest regional economy in the country.
That's why we chose an approach that will support the Hunter's economy to pursue new opportunities alongside its traditional strengths. And we are going to achieve this together and through technology.
We are investing some $20 billion in low emissions technology, including clean hydrogen, battery storage and smarter ways to measure soil carbon.
Critically, our plan puts regional communities at the heart of these opportunities.
Our traditional industries will continue to play an important role in our energy system, our energy exports and our economy. Our plan will not force the shut down of coal or gas production or exports.
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The plan gets the balance right in an Australian way, recognising and capitalising on the strengths of our economy, while protecting and supporting the jobs in our regions in those traditional industries that are the backbone of this country - mining, agriculture, heavy manufacturing.
Newcastle and the Hunter's skilled workforce, critical energy infrastructure, world-class port and university mean the region is well placed to maintain and build on your proud tradition as an energy and manufacturing hub as global markets move to cleaner forms of energy.
We are giving your businesses and workers the ability to do this by supporting new industries alongside existing ones.
Just today my government will announce $1.5 million to help the Port of Newcastle scope out how the Port can work as an exporter of clean hydrogen.
That's on top of the $1.2 billion we're investing in seven regions, including the Hunter, to turn them into hydrogen hubs that will build up local hydrogen production, businesses and exports.
The hub will commercialise hydrogen technology by co-locating hydrogen producers, users and exporters in the region, and building on the Hunter's infrastructure and workforce.
At the same time we are also investing to support local jobs and businesses with reliable and affordable energy to ensure we keep the lights on. The new $600 million Kurri Kurri gas-fired power station will provide reliable supply of energy to heavy industries.
Workers at businesses like Tomago Aluminium know how crucial this will be in guaranteeing supply and keeping the smelter running.
Most importantly, our plan is already happening. We have reduced emissions by more than 20 per cent since 2005. Over the same time, our economy has grown by 45 per cent.
We don't have to shut down the Hunter's key industries in order to meet net zero emissions by 2050 under our plan. We don't have to sacrifice jobs and the economy. We can do both, and we are already doing both.
Backing the Hunter's strengths, and supporting its potential, is key to my government's plan to reach net zero by 2050.
We will continue to go down this path and our economy will keep strengthening. The Hunter is going to emerge as one of the strongest regions because of this.
But we also recognise the Hunter is a diverse region. That's why we are making targeted investments in crucial infrastructure to support and create more jobs.
We've invested $66 million for the upgrade of Newcastle Airport so it can accommodate long range domestic and international services. This is estimated to create around 4400 full-time jobs, deliver an additional 850,000 visitors to the region and add $12.7 billion to the local economy over the next 20 years.
Planning work on the M1 extension from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace is underway, following the government's $1.6 billion commitment to the project.
We are investing in our defence capability, which has seen RAAF Williamtown host Australia's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet, cementing it as one of our most important bases.
The Hunter's reputation as a defence industry hub is growing and will create even more new jobs and future opportunities for local students.
We know you have worked incredibly hard to build your region's prosperity and create opportunities for your families, and we want to preserve your way of life.
Our government's plan respects your choices, jobs and families, and opens up new opportunities, so that you can plan for your future in the Hunter with confidence.
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