Federal Government says no to PICS extension
The visit took place against the background of the Federal Government’s refusal to extend the Printing Industry’s Competitiveness Scheme of which McPherson’s is a major recipient. Printing Industries has lobbied for the subsidy to remain indefinitely in order to compensate printers for the tariffs imposed on raw materials such as paper and Ink.
PICS is due to expire at the end of June 2003. According to Gatehouse (pictured right with Ian Macfarlane in Maryborough this week) without the continuation of PICS, jobs in rural areas like Maryborough are under threat. “We are disappointed that the Commonwealth Government believes that this industry, and the viability of jobs in Maryborough, are not worth saving,” he said.
The four per cent rebate costs around $2.2 million per year and according to Gary Donnison, CEO of Printing industries, its loss comes at a time of increased competition.
“We know for a fact that the Chinese printing industry is sending a large delegation to Australia in June to take our book printing business away.” He said. “It’s an amazing coincidence that this is happening at precisely the time the PICS industry assistance is due to end. Australia stands to lose a significant number of high-skill jobs if the government doesn’t give the industry a fair go.”
PICS helps offset the disadvantage local book producers face against imported books. “The situation is simple,” said Donnison. “A book can be produced overseas using overseas inks, papers and so on, and is imported into Australia duty free.
“Australian book producers, using exactly the same imported materials, carry the cost of Australian duty on those materials, leaving books produced here at an automatic 5% disadvantage. This is not a level playing field for our industry,” he said.