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“Our economic plan is about affordable and reliable energy,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said while announcing a $70 million funding pledge for a hydrogen hub in Tasmania’s Launceston.

Morrison made the announcement after touring a local engineering plant in the Liberal party’s most marginal electorate of Bass, held by MP Bridget Archer on a 0.4 per cent margin.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits CPT Engineering in the seat of Bass.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits CPT Engineering in the seat of Bass.Credit:James Brickwood

The prime minister has focused on renewable energy over the past two days as he works to clean up the political damage from Coalition divisions over climate action.

Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan, who earlier this week declared the Coalition’s net zero by 2050 target was “all over”, on Friday defended his departure from the party line.

“I let all my colleagues know that I will continue to oppose this policy as is our practice in our party rooms,” he told Sky News.

“We do let people express their own views and I think it’s good for the country and helps restore trust in politics.”

Liberal MPs in seats under threat from teal independents or at risk of falling to Labor are battling to contain the damage from Canavan’s comments, with North Sydney Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman distancing himself from the Nationals split at a community forum on Thursday night.

On Friday, Zimmerman said Canavan’s views “didn’t come as a surprise” but that the Coalition had “a firm and absolute commitment to getting to net zero by 2050″.

“That’s something that I strongly advocated for last year and was really pleased that we were able to deliver that,” he said.

“It will be the policy of the government if we’re reelected. And we’ve got the plan to get there … It is a firm commitment of the government, and it’s backed by the investment that we’re making to new technology.”

Zimmerman said the government planned to invest $20 billion over a decade in renewable energy including “things like the hydrogen hubs that the PM has been announcing”.

On Thursday, Morrison announced plans to invest up to $41 million each in two hydrogen projects in the Hunter region.

The Coaltion says clean hydrogen exports could directly support 16,000 jobs and generate more than $50 billion in additional GDP by 2050.

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