The Australian government introduces legislation to implement the A$3.4 billion ($2.7 billion) Automotive Transformation Scheme that comprises the center of its A$6.2 billion ($4.97 billion) New Car Plan for a Greener Future program.

Industry Minister Kim Carr says the new scheme is better targeted and will boost the development of new skills.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the A$6.2 billion plan last November, saying the aim is to make the automotive industry more economically and environmentally sustainable by 2020. The program involves the government matching industry investment in environmentally friendly vehicles over the next 10 years.

“Car making is a cornerstone of Australian manufacturing, making a vital contribution to our economy through employment, skills, innovation and exports,” Carr says.

The ATS will replace the present Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme that is slated to expire Dec. 31, 2010.

“This legislation will provide the automotive industry with 10 years of policy certainty at a time when it is facing acute pressure both in Australia and internationally,” Carr says.

“The ATS has a renewed focus on innovation, with increased support for investment in research and development. It will restore much needed confidence to the industry as it deals with the ramifications of the global recession.”

Carr says the measures in the legislation will provide for the future by encouraging the development of new technologies supported by a highly skilled workforce.

New Car Plan for a Greener Future also includes A$116.3 million ($93.3 million) to promote structural adjustment through consolidation in the components sector and to facilitate labor market adjustment; A$20 million ($16.05 million) to help suppliers improve their capabilities and integration in complex national and global supply chains; and A$6.3 million ($5.05 million) for an enhanced market access program.