A proposed nuclear submarine base at Port Kembla poses a danger to the NSW south coast, and is just one in a long line of unwanted projects "dumped" on the region, locals say.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said defence officials will be in talks with state governments to set up a multi-billion-dollar base for new nuclear-powered submarines, possibly in either Newcastle or Port Kembla in NSW, or Brisbane.
Former president of the Port Kembla Chamber of Commerce and longtime businessman, Ian Fulford, said a base could boost local industry and commerce, but puts the community at risk.
"It makes us a target," Mr Fulford said.
"Port Kembla gets many things dumped on it. Anything to do with pollution or unsavoury projects, Port Kembla seems to get it."
Mr Fulford said extra housing, rail and road infrastructure would be needed to accommodate military personnel in the Illawarra.
"No-one wants to answer those things," he said.
"And then when they get here, do we become a nuclear target, or a military target?"
South Coast Labour Council secretary, Arthur Rorris, said the base would put Port Kembla's steelworks at risk, along with its planned hydrogen hub and offshore wind project.
"Why would you put a nuclear base here? You create a target on one of the big industrial centres, you're actually giving your enemies a reason to hit us," Mr Rorris said.
"It makes no sense."
He said the prime minister is trying to distract voters from disasters like the floods in NSW and Queensland, and the ongoing recovery from the black summer bushfires.
"If he's got $10 billion to spare, don't put a nuclear target on our communities.
"With that $10 billion, you could rebuild all of the houses that were lost in the bushfires, and all of those lost in the floods, and have money left over."
Business Hunter chief executive, Bob Hawes, said Newcastle would be a logical place for a submarine base, given its maritime capabilities.
"We used to be quite an entity when it came to shipbuilding and ship repair in Newcastle and, to some extent, that's waned," he said.
"But we think we've got the readies to be able to build it up again."
Mr Hawes said there will be concern about nuclear submarines from some in the Hunter, but there's plenty of time to think through any proposal.
"It's a right and fair thing to ask those questions."
Australian Associated Press
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