Danger of more print erosion as Corporations Act 2001 is amended: PVCA

The Temporary COVID Measures, which allows virtual meetings such as AGMs and electronic communications, has recently been made permanent following the amendment of the Corporations Act 2001, causing more damage to print and/or mailing businesses, according to the Print and Visual Communications Association (PVCA).

PVCA’s new national president Peter Clark said the Act is detrimental to print as even when it was just a temporary measure the association’s print and mail house members reported that it has cost them millions of dollars in lost revenue during the pandemic period.

The Temporary COVID Measures, allowing temporary relief for companies to hold virtual meetings and use electronic communications to send meeting-materials and execute documents, was initially due to expire on 31 March but now has been made permanent.  

“Things move quite rapidly in today’s business and regulatory space. This damaging and costly situation, which was just a temporary measure imposed on our industry by the current Federal Government, is now passed by parliament,” Clark told Sprinter.

“As of 1 April 2022, the Corporations Act 2001 has been amended with permanent changes that are similar the Temporary COVID Measures but not identical. They still contain the damaging allowance for the use of electronic delivery over printed documents.

“This legislation, combined with the damaging Federal Government’s sourcing of hundreds of millions of overseas printed products at the expense of Australian manufactured products, is causing severe damage to our industry.

“I think the governments have been lobbied by lots of other industries that want to modernise the system; and our industry has been outgunned.”

According to Clark, as the last state border is due to open on 5 March, there is no impediment to businesses to revert to their pre-COVID arrangements of in-person meetings and to revert to safer printed documents.

He also added that the association is mindful that with the steep increase in cybercrime, hacking and online fraud has reached incredible levels during the pandemic.

“With global uncertainty comes added risk of Denial of Service attacks or worse. The ease with which criminals can launch these activities is evidenced by 2016 Census experience,” he said.

“As we all struggle to recover from the impact of COVID on our businesses, members of the Print and Visual Communication sector, particularly those who were hardest hit, will be looking for governments across the nation to overturn the extremely damaging measures.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get it overturned but we’re not happy and we’re going to redouble our efforts now to try and get it reversed.”

According to Clark, the need for physical documents has been well documented in the past.

“There’s a misconception in many industries that not using paper means that they are being eco-conscious. That’s not true,” he mentioned.

“Also, our record of recycling paper in Australia is fantastic. I grew up in the days when cutting trees was looked down upon and plastic was the preferred material. And now look what has happened? There are tonnes of plastic going into our oceans. So, people should educate themselves on the power of paper.

“We need to ensure that people have access to information through the most effective form of communication – easily digestible print on paper.”

In addition, Clark expressed his concern that the Act will cause future damage to small and medium-sized businesses in the print sector that have already suffered because of COVID.

“We’re asking all our members to lobby to their local members as a start, and we’ll be contacting the Treasurer’s office to alert them of the damage it’s causing to our industry. That will be our first steps moving forward,” he added.

“Your representative board will continue to vigorously prosecute the need for changes to this legislation with State and Federal Governments.”

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