WOW:  Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett was invited on board the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
WOW: Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett was invited on board the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Matt Burnett

Navy, bio-hub for Gladstone in mayor's sights

GLADSTONE'S mayor says he's not dreaming when he declares he wants the region to transform into a 'bio-hub' and a home for the United States and Australian Navy.

Attracting bio-industry heavyweights and navy personnel is high on the to-do list for Gladstone region mayor Matt Burnett.

He says it's paying off too, with visits mooted in coming months from international companies involved in bio-refining.

The Gladstone Regional Council is also considering championing a 'bio-strategy' for the region. Cr Burnett said experts in the field would complete the strategy, outlining the best way forward to create a new industry in Gladstone.

He said their inspiration started with Northern Oil's Advanced Biofuel Pilot Project at Yarwun.

The Yarwun bio-refinery is turning tyres into diesel, and it will one day fuel the US Navy Great Green Fleet.

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Meanwhile, American company Mercurius Biorefining and Brisbane's Leaf Resources are moving forward with their plans to build a pilot plant in Mackay or Gladstone.

Cr Burnett met with Mercurius when he travelled to America as part of a trade delegation with the Queensland Premier earlier this year.

Attending to spruik Gladstone as a biofuels hotspot, Cr Burnett invited the company to the region.

Another international company he met with during the summit is due to visit Gladstone in August.

Mr Burnett said he would be joined by a Queensland Government representative and some of Gladstone's leading industries to show the company "why they should invest in Gladstone".

"Nothing frustrates me more when I see the weather map and it has Rockhampton and Bundaberg, and there's plenty of room for Gladstone but we're not there," he said.

"I want Gladstone on the map, and not just the weather map."

Cr Burnett is also in discussions with the US and Australian Navy about turning Gladstone into a naval base.

The Gladstone Regional Council made its case in writing to the senate inquiry into the impact of Australian Defence Force training activities and facilities on regional communities.

Cr Burnett said Gladstone had the deepwater port, the workforce and affordable living for a more permanent naval presence.

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He has written to the chief of the Royal Australian Navy, inviting them here too.

In a sign of networking paying off, Cr Burnett was invited by the US Navy to the 241st Anniversary celebration of the independence of the United States of America on board the USS Ronald Regan.

"We can no longer just rely on coal and aluminium," he said.

"I may not bathe in (coal) like my deputy, I know (coal and aluminium) are the lifeblood of our region ... but we need to diversify.

"We have to keep diversifying and attack every opportunity.

"We're not greedy, we just want everything."