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Labor sharpens hydrogen plan as Libs focus on schools

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Labor has revealed Whyalla as the preferred location for the $593 million Hydrogen Power Station it plans to build if it wins this month’s state election while the Liberal Party has promised to spend almost $40 million on school upgrades.

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The hydrogen project, which forms the centrepiece of Labor’s energy policy, was first flagged as an election promise in March last year but no location was revealed at the time.

The Opposition said it had received a “comprehensive submission” from the City of Whyalla to host the project, with the area chosen due to its status as a “large industrial city” with a “highly trained workforce and service industry”.

Labor also touted the Eyre Peninsula town’s proximity to a deep-water port along with its air and rail infrastructure.

If elected, Labor says it will form a panel composed of various stakeholders, including the Barngarla people, Whyalla Council, Infrastructure SA and the Mining and Infrastructure Departments, to determine exactly where in Whyalla or Port Bonython the project will be built.

Labor says the project – consisting of a 200MW hydrogen power station, 250MWe worth of hydrogen electrolysers and a hydrogen storage facility – will create up to 300 jobs during construction and 900 jobs through the creation of a hydrogen export industry.

Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas said Whyalla was “the perfect location for our Hydrogen Power Station, given its prime location, proximity to key infrastructure and diverse skills base”.

“South Australia already has a strong reputation for leading Australia and the world when it comes to renewable energy – and this is our next big leap forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are pledging to allocate nearly $40 million towards upgrading transportable classrooms at 20 schools across South Australia if re-elected on March 19.

The project to remove old transportable classrooms will see new “high-quality modular learning spaces” put in their place.

However, the $38.8 million in funding is not an additional investment. The State Government says the money comes from previously unallocated Education Department funds.

“These upgrades will be delivered over the next four years and represent the first stage in what will become an ongoing program for retiring outdated facilities and upgrading school learning environments around South Australia,” Education Minister John Gardner said this morning.

“We want to make those tired transportables from the ’50s and ’60s a thing of the past. I look forward to seeing these outdated buildings transported to their final resting place.

Gardner also pledged to invest $8 million towards the purchase of 25 new large buses for regional school routes which are experiencing increasing demand, and the maintenance of the current school bus fleet.

Premier Steven Marshall is also this morning announcing a plan to discount $100 from the Materials and Services Charge for public school families.

The Liberals claim the scheme will save families up to $12 million a year in 2022 and 2023.

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