POLITICIANS are using the future of the Electrolux plant as a political football after Duty Senator for Calare Matt Thistlethwaite yesterday accused member for Calare John Cobb of misleading his constituents and whipping up fear in response to a review underway at the Orange plant.
Mr Cobb claims the carbon tax is to blame for last week’s announcement by Electrolux management the Orange plant must prove it can compete with other plants around the world in order to secure contracts into the future.
However, Senator Thistlethwaite said Mr Cobb had not taken into account the Gillard government’s recent grant of $4.7 million from carbon price revenue to help Electrolux produce more energy-efficient refrigerators.
Yesterday, Electrolux management refused to be drawn into the argument, after their statement last week that the carbon tax grant was a separate issue.
Electrolux corporate communications manager Craig McCarthy said the organisation had a policy of not becoming embroiled in domestic politics in any country where it operates.
“We confirm the investment study wasn’t prompted by the introduction of the carbon tax and that Electrolux is very appreciative of the green tech grant recently awarded the Orange plant by Ausindustry,” he said.
Senator Thistlethwaite said the chief executive of Electrolux had also made it clear the company undertook regular reviews.
“They form part of the company’s internal investment decision processes and as such should not be taken as a sign the business is not viable,” he said.
However, Mr Cobb stuck by his comments.
“Effectively this grant is a one- off bribe and will not continue into the future,” he said.
“With Korean fridges already cheaper, and then you add the extra on for carbon tax, people will always go for the cheaper model,” he said.