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Whiskey maker savours Albany pipe dream
Whiskey maker savours Albany pipe dream

Albany local Cameron Syme concedes the proposed Bunbury-to- Albany gas pipeline is a not a burning issue in the Great Southern town. But, he says, that's because most people don't understand the potential benefits.

The owner of the Great Southern Distilling Company, a well-regarded tourist attraction in the town, is in a privileged position of being able to analyse what the pipeline could bring to Albany.

On top of being a small business owner, Mr Syme is an executive member of the town's chamber of commerce and industry and head of Albany law firm Latro Lawyers.

"I would agree that for most people in the town, it's not really a big issue," Mr Syme said.

"But I don't think most realise how much of a blocker it is to economic development, not having a gas pipeline come through Albany.

"It will be a long-term game-changer for the economic case of a number of businesses in the region, and in turn create jobs."

Citing a case in point in his own distilling business, Mr Syme said he wanted to build a malt works - a process essential for the distilling and brewing process - but because of the lack of cheap natural gas, it was not possible.

It is estimated more than half of Albany's residential population relies on bottled gas, which is generally more expensive. The remainder use a residential pipeline system, replenished by gas that is trucked into the town.

However, not every Albany business owner shares Mr Syme's pipeline enthusiasm.

The manager of gas retailer, who did not want her name published, said the main issue would be the cost of conversion for homes using the bottled gas system. That cost could be up to $1000 for each home.

She said there were other issues in the town that were more important.

That sentiment was echoed by Albany Labor MP Peter Watson.

Mr Watson, who is in the middle of a battle to hold his marginal, swinging seat at the March 9 State election, said he supported the pipeline if it was paid for and operated by the private sector.

He said WA Labor would prioritise spending in Albany on safer roads and schools and creating jobs before a pipeline.