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Dutton avoiding proposed nuclear sites, minister claims

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has been accused of avoiding naming the Australian communities he believes are best suited to house nuclear reactors.

The coalition has earmarked plans to add nuclear energy to the power grid, should it win the next election.

While the locations and number of nuclear power reactors are yet to be formally announced, Mr Dutton has suggested the generators could be placed in communities where there are already coal or gas plants, or those reaching the end of their life.

Locations could include the NSW Hunter Valley, the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Collie in South Australia and parts of southwest Queensland, according to reports.

But Energy Minister Chris Bowen said Mr Dutton had not been seeking community engagement on the possible locations, saying the opposition leader had been avoiding some of the electorates possibly flagged as nuclear sites since taking on the role in 2022.

Those living near a coal or gas plant would be receptive to nuclear energy, Peter Dutton says. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“Dutton claims he understands energy communities, which would potentially host nuclear reactors, but he hasn’t visited one this term,” Mr Bowen said.

“He says he’s got polling that shows those same communities he’s not visited, supporting his risky reactor plan.

“That means he’s already picked the sites. It’s past time he had an honest conversation with these communities, rather than relying on his secret polling.”

The opposition leader has indicated an announcement is imminent about the coalition’s nuclear proposal, despite previously indicating it would be unveiled before May’s federal budget.

Mr Dutton said those living near a coal or gas plant would be receptive to nuclear energy.

“When you look at the communities where there is a high energy IQ, that is where they’ve got a coal-fired power station now, people are in favor (of nuclear) because they understand the technology,” he told Nine’s Today program .

“They understand that it’s zero emissions, that it is latest generation, it’s the same technology the government signed up to for the nuclear submarines, so it’s safe for our sailors.”

But Mr Bowen said the coalition needed to be forthcoming about the plans to add nuclear to the energy mix.

“This shocking truth that he hasn’t visited one potential host community for risky reactors, comes the same week CSIRO confirmed this plan would see Australians foot massive bills, for the most expensive form of energy, that’s also too slow to keep the lights on “he said.

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