Government’s $6m printing cuts ‘pour salt into wounds’ for industry

Finance minister Penny Wong announced on Tuesday that the government would find $550 million of efficiencies within the public sector, including reducing printing by about 5% “through greater reliance on publishing online only”.

A spokesperson told ProPrint that the Federal government spent about $125 million on printing in 2010-11; it did not reveal which departments would cut back on printing.

Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) chief executive Bill Healey said more than 50 full-time jobs in the ACT were at risk.

The PIAA’s Healey said: “The government needs to understand that print intrinsically remains the preferred communication medium for many Australians.”

The printers ProPrint spoke to said they were concerned by the government’s plan, which has come on top of previous cutbacks, and thought redundancies were inevitable.

One Canberra print boss said: “It’s pouring salt into the wounds. The industry here is pretty despondent. The cuts represent a sizeable percentage of our market. It undoubtedly will lead to job cuts somewhere in the industry.”

Copyqik owner Mike Catherall was concerned because about half the company’s turnover came from government printing.

“The print industry has been on a downward spiral since [the Global Financial Crisis]. Most government departments don’t have money to spend on printing as it is… I’m down to bare bones now.”

Qprint, which derives 70% of its income from government work, is also worried, said owner Tanya Yachmen.

“I’ve cut back. I’ve only got two staff. Everybody is cutting back,” she told ProPrint.

“I’ve been in this business for 17 years and bled my finances down to nothing.

“If I could get out of this industry today I would walk out, but we invest so much money into all this equipment, so you can’t. I owe hundreds of thousands of dollars with all the equipment I have.”

Prinstant owner Phil Tarrant said he was worried that the government’s cuts would make the sector even more competitive.

However, he said Prinstant had made a point of reducing its reliance on Federal work down to 10-15% of revenue.

Paragon Printers, which generates 20% of its turnover from government printing, has spent the past decade diversifying because it “could see the writing on the wall”, said managing director Mel Dalgleish.

But Impress Printers, which gets a quarter of its work from the government, was unconvinced the cost-cutting plan would actually be followed through.

Owner Terry Ward said: “They threaten us every so often. It will come into being and last for a fortnight and then be all over and forgotten.”

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