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Pipeline first term pipe dream
Picture: Lee Griffith Pipeline first term pipe dream

Premier Colin Barnett has admitted the Bunbury to Albany gas pipeline will not get under way in his Government’s first term, despite stating in February work should begin by the end of the year.

The Premier indicated to the Albany Advertiser in February a time frame for when he expected construction to begin.

“I would hope that we might get construction on the first leg (from Bunbury to Manjimup) under way toward the end of this year,” he said at the time.

But last week Mr Barnett pushed the date back, making it clear construction would not start before the next election.

He said the Government remained committed to the pipeline as a second-term project and was confident of revealing its route and funding method by next month. “The commitment to the Albany pipeline is very clear and very strong,” he said.

The pipeline was a major election promise in 2008 which was used as an attack on the “Perth-centric” Carpenter Government.

The extension of the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline to Albany was touted as a way of reducing Albany’s reliance on bottled gas.

But the project hit problems in 2010 when the estimated $225 million price tag doubled after Treasury officials examined it.

The Government has advertised for a project manager and talked to companies that might be willing to build, own and operate the development, including Canadian giant ATCO.

Albany MP Peter Watson said the Liberal Government had let Albany down and its residents would not believe promises made before the next election by Mr Barnett.

Mr Watson criticised the Government for not allocating major funding for the project in the last State Budget.

Liberal candidate for Albany Trevor Cosh expressed confidence the Premier would make good on his commitment to construct the pipeline in a second Liberal term.

“He’s still going to do it,” he said.

Mr Cosh blamed the delay on the State’s declining GST share from the Federal Labor Government.

keir.tunbridge@albanyadvertiser.com