The proposed coal-fired power station at Collie is too valuable to the future economic well-being of Western Australia to become a political football.
Fuel and Energy Minister Geoff Gallop said today that the interim contract between SECWA and ASEA Brown Boveri to be signed later this year would include the all-important 'power purchase agreement' and other details necessary to secure final financing.
"Put simply, the interim contract contains the detail; the `final' contract due to be signed early next year is confirmation of that detail," Dr Gallop said.
The Minister described as misleading claims by the Liberals' deputy leader, Colin Barnett, which suggested that under the arrangement announced by the Government earlier this week nothing would be finalised until next year.
"The Government has taken the view that the new power station can be commissioned earlier than January 1998 if the State's economic position improves sooner than forecast," Dr Gallop said.
He said that to begin buying power from any new power station before it was needed would push energy prices up, not down.
Dr Gallop described as absurd National Party claims that the revised time-frame for the commissioning of the power station would allow SECWA to speed up its gas development program.
"SECWA has a program for the introduction of gas-generating capacity which has been underway for some years," he said.
"SECWA's revised forecasts, which led to a later commissioning date for the power station, have also resulted in a modified gas turbine program. This will ensure that taxpayers will not be burdened with the cost of producing electricity for which there is no use."
The Minister said the Government would not be diverted from its goal of achieving the best possible deal for all Western Australian power users.
He said that the diversity of fuel sources and competition between suppliers was a major factor in achieving the Government's target of a cut of at least 25 per cent in real terms in electricity tariffs by the end of the century.