Bring Back Print campaign ramping up

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Armed with a near 5000 strong Bring Back Print petition, Print and Visual Communications Association CEO Andrew Macaulay met with deputy prime minister Michael McCormack, with McCormack asking for a written submission, which Macaulay said will be submitted shortly.

The aim of the petition and allied campaign is to return the $150m-$200m worth of government and taxpayer-funded print back to Australia from overseas, primarily from China.

Printing for Australia: China
Printing for Australia: China

“We have also made a submission to the prime minister, and the National Cabinet, because we need the campaign to go to the states, as well,” Macaulay said.

The Bring Back Print campaign wants the National Cabinet to introduce a similar edict to one in place in the US, whose Government Printing and Binding Regulations states: “Attention is directed to the Buy American Act (41 U.S. Code 10 a-d) which provides that the Government give preference to domestic source end products.”

The petition is the focal point of a campaign by PVCA, AMWU and Marvel Bookbinding to right what the industry sees as the wrong of taxpayer-funded print going overseas on the basis of cost, when it is the government itself that has imposed costs on Australian business – such as super, workers compensation, payroll tax, OHS and environmental compliance – which printers in China and Vietnam do not have to pay.

The campaign points to government-funded institutions such as the National Gallery of Victoria and the Queensland Art Gallery as prime examples of organisations sending hundreds of thousands of dollars of print work overseas, while local presses sit idle thanks to the coronavirus.

The campaign's backers are using strong language to convey the strength of feeling in the industry, with Macaulay saying sending government print overseas now is “reprehensible”, while AMWU national assistant secretary Lorraine Cassin said it was “unthinkable” that the government was sending work overseas while local businesses struggle.

PVCA also met with a senior parliamentary advisor to the NSW Premier. “We discussed the need to build manufacturing in Australia,” he said.

“We spoke about the printers who have been able to retool and think laterally during this time and produce masks and other PPE. There is all sorts of exciting innovation going on, and it’s because we have the manufacturing skills in Australia. We need to build on that while we have this opportunity now.”

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