Latest News

Letters, feedback, opinions – get it off your chest

Thursday, 01 March 2007
By Print 21 Online Article

I have been motivated to respond to Matt Handley’s Matt Handley’s published in Print21on-line issue 245 and titled ‘Printing Industries‘ visa stance draws fire’.

First of all at the outset I would like to declare my decade’s long involvement with the Printing Industries Association of Australia (Printing Industries) in the capacity of a member, regional and national councillor, and former regional and national president. The Association has not lost touch with its membership and it is wrong to state that is pandering to the top end of town. Printing Industries is fully aware of industry demographics and the fact that approximately 85 per cent of the industry comprises of businesses employing less than 20 people.

Small member companies continue to play a pivotal role in the management of the Association and are represented on the governing bodies at both regional and national level. Initiatives such as the “Focus on China” trade matching mission and the recently submitted position paper on the temporary skilled migration program are aimed at delivering benefits to
printing businesses irrespective of size. Just because you are a small printing business does not mean you are insulated from the forces
of globalisation and import competition.

Similarly, both small and large printing businesses are currently experiencing difficulties in recruiting skilled employees to fill skilled positions. This is the reason why Printing Industries in its submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry advocated the continuation of the temporary skilled migration visa scheme. The printing industry needs to have flexibility to recruit skilled employees from overseas destinations when it can
demonstrate that it can not fill the available skilled positions locally. For many sponsoring companies recruiting from overseas often represents the last resort because it is both costly and a time consuming exercise.
Printing Industries does not advocate sponsored workers being subjected to lower wages and conditions. The submission makes it clear that the authorities should ensure that sponsored workers are not paid rates that are below prevailing legal norms.

Finally, I share the concerns of Matt when he says that the printing industry is not a flea market. The industry indeed produces quality products and services and we should be paid prices that reflect the high quality of that output. Since the launch of the PRINT21 Action Agenda in 2001, Printing Industries has consistently advocated charging prices that reflect the industry’s high quality output.

The Association has also forewarned its members and the industry in general concerning the dangers of being trapped in a commodity producer mindset. The PRINT21 Action Agenda which the Association has taken on board for implementation maps out clear strategies to successfully migrate from a commodity producer market segment to a higher value added market segment.

I hope I have managed to allay the concerns of Matt and others who may have similar concerns or reservations. Printing Industries is committed to defending and promoting the commercial interests of all types of printing businesses, both small and large.

Yours sincerely,

Ainslie Lamb

Lamb Print, WA.


After reading the article about the need for the industry to reinvent its image to attract new apprentices, I remember how the industry is always trying to reinvent the wheel. In my experience I have watched the industry take off round wheels and replace them with square wheels so often that it is obvious to those watching that the industry is lacking management and planning skills.

Forty years ago in the 1960s, the printing industry supported a very successful apprentice recruitment and training scheme run by PATEFA [now Printing Industries] and conducted by young trainee managers of the JPE. This program included school visits by JPE members and visits to printing plants and the printing trade school by prospective trainees. PATEFA then conducted a selection & screening program & directed young people towards companies requiring apprentices. The scheme worked very well and the skill levels of those apprentices was very good. The Trade schools then also conducted training course for those people to advance through the industry.

In the recent days of economic rationalisation, in the rush for the almighty dollar, human relations and training of future staff fell by the board. Lay-offs, casualisation of the work force and workplace agreements in place of Graphic Arts awards also reduced pool of skilled labour. The companies also fell down in their support of PATEFA initiatives. Now they are reaping the reward of their lack of forward planning.

The last thing the industry needs is another bureaucratic government investigation into the state of the industry. This has been done on countless previous occasions and the problems still exist. What the industry needs when it is doing well in this economy is to get together, re-introduce and support apprentice recruitment and training schemes that once again could be co-ordinated by PATEFA.
But I wonder whether too many companies can look far enough ahead of the next month’s financial results to plan for skilled staff in a few years’ time.

I doubt it.

Tony Martin

Penfold Buscombe, Queensland.


Dear Editor,

I read the article with interest, as Fish Print is only 20 minutes away, the article emphasized the water saving capacity which in litres sounds good but with waterless plates don’t they need air conditioning ? Doesn’t this use more power / therefore more green house gases? As for the plate system we have been only using 10 litres of water a day since 1998, and on our 6 colour 72 we use 30 litres a day. As for recycled paper most coated papers have the base as recycled and a virgin coat top and bottom. Besides don’t they use more water to make recycled paper than from virgin paper pulp? I would think Fish Print is a little fishy in their water saving concept.

Calvin Wilkie

Network Press, Vic.

Comment on this article

To receive notification of comments made to this article, you can also provide your email address below.