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‘A solid role for print in Parliament’: PIAA

Thursday, 22 June 2017
By Print 21 Online Article

(l-r) The PIAA's Mary Jo Fisher with CanPrint's Andrew Brien and Deb Shields before the hearing.

Printing Industries has told a parliamentary committee considering the value of continuing to print hard copies of official documents that the federal government should tread carefully in contemplating replacing print with online publishing.

Printing Industries’ director of government relations, Mary Jo Fisher, says: “Our message was clear: Be careful what you wish for. Publishing parliamentary documents online may appear superficially attractive but needs significant improvement and advances if it is to deliver the same value as print overall.”

The Joint Committee on Publications hearing in Canberra

Fisher appeared before the committee on Thursday morning, along with Andrew Brien and Deb Shields from Canberra’s CanPrint – which prints more than 50 percent of federal parliamentary documents – and warned that the ramifications of the inquiry could spread well beyond federal documents.

“The upshot of this inquiry will flow through state parliaments and local governments and to our members who print those documents.  Beyond that, it will deliver a message about the perceived value of print, which will resonate throughout the community’’.

‘’CanPrint’s motivation in providing input into the inquiry extends beyond retaining a part of their business,” says Fisher. “They are acting for the printing industry as a whole and assisting the association to combat misleading views about the value of print.”

The Printing Industries’ submission pointed out that with many parliamentary documents, only a small proportion of the total costs of printing hard copies could be eliminated by moving to online publication.

“For example, the physical printing of an annual report reflects approximately 20 percent of the total cost, the rest being consumed by design, copywriting, editing, typesetting and indexing, all of which would still be required,” said Fisher. “Printed parliamentary documents deliver value through the service and turnaround times, the quality of the work and the security of the information throughout the process.”

Committee chairman, Queensland LNP MP George Christensen, raised several issues regarding online publishing, including the vulnerability of digital systems to persistent crashing, computer viruses and sabotage. “How much backup is needed to ensure we don’t wake up one day and five years of history is just gone?” he said.

Committee chairman George Christensen, MP.

After the hearing, Fisher said: “It went very well. We are reassured that there will remain a solid role for print in Parliament.”

The committee – which is considering shifting printed parliamentary papers to an online-only format from 2017 – will now consider the evidence and compile a report, with possible recommendations.

Read Printing Industries’ opening statement to the Joint Committee on Publications here.



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