Major parties promise support for regional newspapers facing 80% rises in paper costs

A plea for help from regional newspaper publishers as newsprint paper prices rise by up to 80 per cent has been heeded with both major parties announcing support so regional and local newspaper publishers can keep printing ahead of this Saturday’s federal poll.

The support comes after Country Press Australia president Andrew Manuel called for urgent assistance as some publishers faced closure or consolidation due to rising costs.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has pledged $10 million in financial support to eligible publishers from July 1, while Labor’s Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, says $15 million will be made available for regional and local publishers as part of a broader $29 million local news and community broadcasting package.

Labor’s support plan comprises $10 million for regional newspapers publishers, with $5 million for local newspaper publishers, including independent suburban papers, First Nations and multicultural publishers.

Both parties have also pledged $2 million in financial support for paper miller, Norske Skog, to replace a coal-fired boiler at its mill in Boyer, Tasmania – the last paper mill in Australia.

In making the announcements, Fletcher said the Coalition Government had provided critical support for regional media during the COVID-19 pandemic and is standing with them again now.

“Regional newspapers provide a vitally important role in bringing regional communities together and keeping them informed of local news and events,” Fletcher said.

“I have met with major regional publishers on the issues they are facing and the support they require. We will move urgently to deliver this new round following the election, working closely with the sector, with payments expected to be made from 1 July when newsprint prices are due to increase.”

Funding will be contingent on no newspaper closures or job losses due to increased newsprint prices.  Funding amounts will be determined based on the demonstrated cost impacts to eligible applicants of newsprint cost increases.

Rowland said regional and local newspapers remain exposed to external shocks, such as newsprint price increases which threaten to wipe out local newspaper titles for good.

“Labor will support local news, community media and jobs while working to formulate a principles-based, evidence-informed and sustainable framework of measures to support public interest journalism and media diversity in Australia – which has been sorely lacking under Scott Morrison,” Rowland said.

The Real Media Collective GM – IR, Policy & Governance Charles Watson welcomed the announcement.

The Real Media Collective GM – IR, Policy & Governance Charles Watson

“PVCA/TRMC have been engaged in discussions with government ministers and MPs in regards to supporting the local manufacturing sectors of paper and the importance of our media channels. This is welcomed news and one we are thrilled to have supported by both Government and Opposition,” Watson said.

“Additionally, we are continuing our efforts in both Australia and New Zealand to look to increase local manufacturing and /or freight subsidy support.

“In addition, to paper and news media support, we are also looking to government support across the print sector’s training and apprentice support programs. From paper manufacturing to printed product, our end to end supply chain needs support we employ some 600,000 Australians across the greater and overall industry and government needs to understand this better. We are ensuring they are informed with our Global Paper Pricing and Supply Chain issue papers to ensure the pressures on industry are recognised,” concluded Watson.

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One thought on “Major parties promise support for regional newspapers facing 80% rises in paper costs

  1. Take that $10 million in financial support, and invest it into a local manufacturing paper in Australia again…. Coated included…. when will we learn?

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