Macaulay meets with PM

Andrew Macaulay, CEO, Printing Industries, represented the printing sector as part of a Small Business Round Table with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra last week, raising critical issues including energy pricing, government payments, and skills shortages.

Macaulay says, "It is a testament to the profile that the Printing Industries Association of Australia has achieved, and an acknowledgement of the importance of our industry, that we were invited to participate in this discussion.

“We raised the issue of the shortage of skills and labour in some areas of print and the need for governments to expand foreign visa exemptions to fill the shortage.

“We are getting many requests from members, and I would be interested to hear from Australian Printer readers who need workers that are not able to get visas for a skills shortfall, as we are in that dialogue at the moment and expect results, we are looking at extending the list for the printing industry.”

During the meeting, Turnbull announced that the Federal Government will mandate that by July 2019, all non-corporate Commonwealth entities must pay all invoices for contracts, up to a total value of $1m, within 20 calendar days. With many printers on government contracts, the decision will improve businesses’ cash flow, albeit not for 18 months.

Macaulay says, "We welcome commitment by the Federal Government to expedite payments to small and medium-sized businesses as delivering some relief to printers in the market environment, but are disappointed on the July 2019 timeframe for implementation.”

Energy policy is the most pressing issue for Printing Industries, with Macaulay noting the stabilisation of energy prices is not enough, and that governments must work to bring the prices down.

“It is abject policy failure from Government and the Opposition that we are in this farcical situation where energy prices are as high as they are.

“There needs to be leadership from the Federal government at the COAG committee of Australian governments. The states control gas exploration and investment in power stations.

“There is an immediate need for compensation to small businesses for the cost of the immediate impact. We cannot wait 18 months or two years, we need something effective immediately.

Additional issues raised with the Prime Minister included penalty rates and workplace reform, the burden of payroll tax, VET and the importance of apprenticeships and investment in vocational training generally, and the need for a longer term commitment to instant asset write off for small businesses.

Macaulay says, "I further discussed these issues in the context of the printing industry with the Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack, in a subsequent meeting.

"The meetings are part of the ongoing engagement that Printing Industries is having with both the Federal Government and Opposition, prosecuting policy objectives set by our members. We are preparing for the election next year to ensure the print sector is the front of mind of governments when forming their policies.”

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