The Print and Visual Communications Association (PVCA), together with The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), and Marvel Bookbinding and Print Finishing, has called for all levels of government to immediately shift all their printing to Australian businesses.
In support of this, PVCA launched an online industry petition, calling print and packaging industry members to e-sign the appeal.
The appeal was initially addressed to the treasurer and senior ministers seeking urgent redress on government print procurement, to ensure that print work and the money from it is being spent with Australian SMEs.
It has since escalated this communication to prime minister Scott Morrison.
Printing businesses across the country are seeing a drastic reduction in work as a result of the collapse of the hospitality, tourism, and entertainment industries, PVCA CEO Andrew Macaulay said.
“If the national cabinet, prime minister and state premiers can make sweeping decisions to shut down private businesses, they can certainly give a directive to their own departments and operating entities to only procure from Australian SMEs. For government to be spending taxpayer money in China on print today is reprehensible”, Macaulay said.
“Many of our members are looking at either standing down their workforce, or reducing the hours that they work because there just aren’t enough print jobs coming in.
“It is inexcusable that any taxpayer money is being spent overseas on products and services that Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are ready, willing and available to supply government.”
According to Macaulay, members across the country have provided PVCA with examples of Federal, State and Local Government agencies procuring print from overseas, particularly China.
“At this time of disruption to our economy from COVID-19, and the requirement for Government to spend $300 billion on stimulus packages to assist SME businesses and their employees, it seems incongruous for Government to be spending tax dollars overseas on print that is readily available in Australia,” he said.
“This procurement could assist Australian SMEs.
“Australian printers provide WH&S benefits, maintain environmental standards, and remunerate within award conditions that all far exceed any of the markets where the Australian Government agencies are procuring their print. The market is not a level playing field.”
The PVCA has suggested a two-pronged approach for the government to take, which includes:
1. Federal, State and Local Government leading by example by mandating the compulsory purchasing of their own print from Australian owned and operated print manufacturers;
2. Federal Government requiring the same WH&S standards, the same environmental standards, the same employee benefits standards it mandates in Australia, from any foreign bidder.
“Australian print and packaging businesses are predominantly SMEs, they operate in every regional town as well as our capital cities and industrial centres,” PVCA addressed, in the appeal.
“Now, is the time for Government to buy Print in Australia. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent in China, when Australian SME printers can provide the same product.
“It is the time for Australian vitality, enterprise and innovation to be the driving force for the re-emergence of a revitalised domestic print industry.”
AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian said the same is occurring with government procurement across the rest of the manufacturing industry.
“Over the past three decades, we’ve seen our governments send manufacturing work offshore because it’s the cheapest option. We need to rethink government procurement policies in this country so that they factor in the benefit of investing in Australian jobs, Australian businesses, and Australian industry,” Bastian said.
“Australian taxpayer money should be spent supporting Australian jobs not just during this crisis but into the future.”
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