View Comments
Barnett  now a desal fan
Switch on: Colin Barnett at the Binningup desalination plant. Picture: Jon Gellweiler

Premier Colin Barnett had to admit being sceptical about getting drinking water from the ocean as he set the second stage of the Binningup desalination plant online yesterday.

The $450 million expansion is a big step towards drought-proofing Perth and will double the plant's capacity to 100 billion litres a year. When it is finished, half of Perth's water will come from desalination.

But minutes after Mr Barnett started the flow, he was forced to admit he had not always been a fan of desalination.

In 2004, he was highly critical of the Kwinana plant, saying it would emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and that he favoured a canal from Kimberley.

Mr Barnett said he had been assured the technology at Binningup was more energy efficient.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the Premier was a hypocrite for praising desalination yesterday after saying in 2006 that desalination would "do nothing" for WA's economic development.