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Green Car Innovation Fund pumps $63 million into Toyota. Commercialisation Australia gets $61 million for innovators? Am I missing something?


Last week, I received a media release from the office of Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. I have paraphrased its contents, followed by some questions and observations of my own.

Senator Carr’s office announced last week that it will invest $63 million to bring production of Toyota’s next-generation, four-cylinder engine to the company’s plant in Altona, Victoria. The Altona plant currently employs 320 people.

So, that’s $63 million to maintain 320 jobs. Or $196,875.00 per job.

The grant from the Green Car Innovation Fund will be used to install the equipment and technology needed to build the engine, designed to consume 4.5 percent less fuel and produce 5 percent fewer greenhouse emissions than today’s equivalent engine.

So, that’s $63 million to install equipment designed elsewhere?

The Green Car Innovation Fund was developed to provide assistance “to Australian companies for projects that enhance the research and development and commercialisation of Australian technologies that significantly reduce fuel consumption and/or greenhouse gas emissions of passenger motor vehicles.”

I feel so proud to have Toyota as a home-grown brand. It’s up there with Vegemite and the Ugg Boot.

The new grant complements $35 million provided to Toyota Australia for the Australian-made, low-emission Hybrid Camry launched in February 2010.

Well, that’s understandable. It’s hard to get change from $100,000 million these days when propping up international players in locally unsustainable industries.

By way of comparison, the much lauded Commercialisation Australia fund has been allocated $244 million over the four years 2011 to 2014. That’s $61 million a year.

Hmmm. Surely I’m missing something? Can someone help me out? (Please.)

Image by Jeff Glucker