A Bunbury-to-Albany gas pipeline would be put on the backburner under a Labor Government.
State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan was in Albany this week and declared the project a “pipe dream”, accusing the Government of making promises it would not keep.
“The Government is not going to build it,” he said on Tuesday.
“This is just a pipe dream by (Premier Colin Barnett) to try and get votes from the community of Albany.”
As part of Labor’s election package for Albany, Mr McGowan promised $9 million would be spent on several new overtaking lanes on Albany Highway between Mt Barker and Kojonup, to be constructed during a Labor government’s first term.
He also committed $2million towards further planning of the Albany ring road and a total of $5.5million for new early childhood facilities at Spencer Park and Flinders Park primary schools.
The $2.5million Spencer Park pledge matches a commitment already announced and budgeted for by the Government.
Labor also re-announced a $15.6million funding package for the Albany Anzac centenary, a $5million ocean pool at Middleton Beach and a promise to relocate the Department of Local Government from the Perth CBD to Albany.
It would also to create a Minister for the Great Southern, likely to be member for Collie-Preston Mick Murray, with Mr Watson as parliamentary secretary.
But Mr McGowan’s stance on the gas pipeline overshadowed those announcements and immediately drew criticism.
The Liberal-National Government announced details of its long-promised 350km pipeline last October, with construction proposed to begin mid-2014 at an estimated project cost of $135 million.
The project was a Liberal promise before the 2008 State election, with construction then flagged to begin by last year.
The Government came under heavy fire from the Opposition for breaking that promise, but this week Mr McGowan made it clear the pipeline would not be a Labor priority.
Liberal candidate for Albany Trevor Cosh said he was “blown away” by Labor’s attitude.
“If we’re going to encourage industry, if we’re going to make things easier and cheaper for everyone, we need to go on reticulated gas,” he said. “It’s huge for the region, not just Albany.”
Nationals candidate Robert Sutton said the pipeline would be needed to encourage industry to the region.
Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the pipeline was essential to the City of Albany’s plans and development would be severely limited without the infrastructure.
Albany MP Peter Watson said the pipeline would not necessarily mean gas would be cheaper for household customers, and Albany should focus on other priorities, such as boosting tourism and road upgrades.
The coalition’s pipeline would service Mt Barker and several other towns, including Manjimup, Donnybrook and Bridgetown, and would also have the capacity to branch from Mt Barker to Katanning.