Govt looks to shrink print

The Australian government has launched an inquiry into its printing, which may see the digitisation of printed records across Parliament, a technology switch that may result in the annulment of sizeable printing contracts.

Parliamentary printing standards have not been reviewed since 2007 – a large hiatus during which a slew of major digital and technological developments have prompted the government to rethink its print spend.

Government printing makes a large portion of contracts for printers across Australia, with companies including Blue Star, Canprint, Union Offset, Adamson Printing, Prominent Press, National Mailing & Marketing  the Camerons Group, The Printing Factory Group, New Millennium Print, Prominent Press, National Mailing & Marketing  along with Ricoh and Konica Minolta landing sizeable contracts with federal government agencies in recent times.

A number of printers – particularly those located in the ACT – depend on Government work to fuel print, and some of whom without govt contracts may struggle to adapt.

Among the major local wins recently were envelope printer The Camerons Group which won a $2.8m, seven-year contract in 2009 to supply the Australian Electoral Commission with Declaration Envelopes and Fyshwick-based Canprint Communications signed a $6m deal to for print services to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in 2013. It is unknown if these contracts would be extended following a print standards overhaul.

On announcing the inquiry, the government’s Joint Committee on Publications says it will evaluate the necessity of printing parliamentary records and Commonwealth documents in a increasingly digitised administration.

“Since the last review of printing standards in 2007, the costs, technologies and capabilities associated with printing have changed significantly. The inquiry will focus on the relevance of the current printing standards and their scope of application in an increasingly digital and online environment,” the Committee says.

ProPrint spoke to Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) membership services director Mary Jo Fisher who says the Association will make a submission to the inquiry in favour of keeping print.

"Printing Industries will be making a submission to the Inquiry and is in the process of consulting with its members about our approach to the Inquiry.  Printing Industries will also seek to appear before the Committee, once it starts its hearings in 2017," says Fisher.

"In our view, the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are clearly skewed away from print and towards online.  It is part of Printing Industries’ mission to fix that. Those who unthinkingly favour online should be careful what they wish for."

[Related: Census print run slashed]

The inquiry also follows on from the recent Australian Government Printing and Publications Review conducted by the Department of Finance and the Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (the Belcher Review) commissioned by the Secretaries Board.

According to the inquiry, the following print-related items will be evaluated and the Committee will be accepting submissions until January:

-The current level of need for printing standards and scope of their application;

-Minimum standards required by the Parliament to ensure the ongoing integrity of access to parliamentary records (including for distribution, long term storage, handling and archiving, and given its custodial role in preserving parliamentary records);

-Impacts of Parliamentary printing standards on producing and receiving entities;

-Costs of producing Commonwealth documents and value for money;

-The impact on the standards of the Parliamentary Papers Series (PPS) shifting to online-only format from 2017 onwards;

-Consequential standards to preserve public access to documents presented to parliament in an online environment (c.f. other Commonwealth accessibility requirements); and

-The practicality of the PPS in an online environment and the functions of the Joint Committee on Publications.

Digitisation of traditionally printed government practices is being rolled out through the new Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), a replacement program for the previous Digital Transformation Office (DTO) which coordinates online and digital service delivery of government documents.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.