Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (18:03): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the
Minister for Higher Education. However, I note that the matter I have will fall between a number of
portfolios, but I am directing this adjournment to Minister Tierney in the minister’s capacity as higher
education minister and a member for Western Victoria Region.
During my travels around the fantastic region which is Western Victoria, it is becoming increasingly
apparent that regional Victoria is no longer just a place for farming or conventional manufacturing.
Right throughout the region there is an infinite supply of research and innovation. Whether it is the
mining of dark matter out near Stawell, research into carbon fibre or the creation of new liquids from
prawn shells in Geelong, I have been truly surprised by the level of enterprise which can be found in
each corner of the region.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr Adrian Panow, who is the director of energy at Deakin
University. We had a very informative discussion about the latest innovations in fuel cells and the
transport industry. Deakin’s Warrnambool campus has the backing of all levels of government as well
as industry for the HyceL technology hub, a groundbreaking hydrogen research facility. Warrnambool
is the ideal location for this work due to is positioning on the transport corridor between Melbourne
and South Australia, a skilled workforce and a community that is continually looking for opportunities
with emerging industries. Dr Panow explained that the university needs between $8 million and
$9 million in funding in order to secure Deakin’s research into hydrogen and how it can be safely and
efficiently used for heavy transport and introduced into homes and industry and also to ensure that the
training needs of the new workforce are delivered.
This funding contribution from the state government would see the establishment of Australia’s first
hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing facility. This means we could have right here in Victoria the use of
Victorian-made fuel cells in trucks and industrial applications, not to mention the many employment
opportunities that come with this, including through the complex research trials. Currently there is no
capacity to domestically manufacture fuel cells at the required scale, which prevents Australian
innovations from reaching global markets and is vital for industry growth. This funding would cement
Victoria’s investment in hydrogen-related research into the future.
Hydrogen is critical for heavy transport. Hydrogen storage is much lighter than batteries, refuelling is
quicker and the range is longer—all essential for commercial operations. Hydrogen, when produced
using renewable energy, is a sustainable source of energy which is key to decarbonise industry into
the future. Hydrogen energy is a contemporary example of economics and science overlapping. All
we need now is the political willpower and funding to encourage this needed research.
As the Minister for Higher Education and a member for Western Victoria, I am sure that Minister
Tierney shares both my and Deakin’s enthusiasm for projects such as these. Therefore the action that
I seek is for the minister to commit to providing Deakin with the needed funding in order to ensure
that the Warrnambool campus is established as a hydrogen hub for industry and the Victorian
community to benefit from this opportunity.