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The Australian print industry is set to lose tens of millions of dollars a year, thanks to the government’s decision to make the temporary Covid measures that enabled ASX-listed companies to communicate without print into a permanent statute. 

PVCA is calling on printers to lobby MPs to overturn the government’s decision, which PVCA president Peter Clark says is “misguided”, with the association saying that the run-up to the federal election is the ideal time to pressure MPs.

Clark said, “We are encouraging printers to get in touch with their local members to let them know the damage this will cause to the industry. PVCA will be talking to the Treasury Office next week, they have to know what they are doing to the print and mail industry.”

Before Covid, all ASX-listed companies had to send out notifications about their AGMs, EGMs and other meeting by print. When Covid hit the government brought in a temporary measure to allow companies to communicate electronically only. That has now been incorporated into the Act.

Charles Watson, manager IR and governance at TRMC called the government’s actions “disappointing” and said, “We are not happy with the outcome. We approached both sides of Parliament, but there was wholesale support from them to digitise ASX company communication.”

Watson said there was an opt-in option for people to receive printed notifications, but said this was unlikely to be widely used. He said, “That government has allowed this to happen is really disappointing. They have bowed to the corporates who have got it through under the guise of using new technology.”

Clark said, “Electronic-only communication does not work for a large section of shareholders, who are in the elderly demographics, and we have serious concerns over security, given the amount of hacking that goes on.”

In a communication to members, PVCA said that “As the last state border is due to open on the 5 March, there is no impediment to businesses to revert to their pre-Covid arrangements with meetings, AGMs etc., and to revert to safer printed documents. We are mindful that with the steep increase in cybercrime, hacking and online fraud has reached incredible levels during the pandemic.

“With global unceratinty 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.

“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 unwind the extremely damaging measures.”

ASX-listed businesses used to provide a large slice of print in the days when reports and accounts had to be printed, with businesses spending big on presenting how well they were doing, with glossy heavy stock full-colour reports. Those days seem long ago.

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