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PIAA slams Manufacturing Taskforce Report for ignoring print

Wednesday, 22 August 2012
By Print 21 Online Article

The Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Taskforce Report, released this month, has drawn criticism from Printing Industries for not addressing the unique issues faced by the Australian printing industry in the current economic climate.

The Smarter manufacturing for a smarter Australia report of the non-government members of the Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Manufacturing, comprising business and union leaders, was drafted to reflect the critical challenges facing the manufacturing sector.

While Printing Industries CEO, Bill Healey (pictured), welcomes the release of the report, he says he is disappointed that the report contained no printing industry-specific concerns of recommendations.

“Many of the recommendations are consistent with the overall strategic direction adopted by Printing Industries and articulated to the Taskforce,” says Healey. “However it is disappointing that there were not any sector-based plans or recommendations.

“The Report certainly provides us with a broad framework to address printing industry specific issues but it does not recognize that some sectors, such as the printing sector, have unique issues and challenges that require special attention to redress,” he says.

Healey says that, of the report’s 41 recommendations, Printing Industries’ initial assessment indicated that only 18 of the recommendations would be directly relevant to the print industry.

“Many of the recommendations build on what we currently have underway initiated under Printing and Publishing network on the Creative Industries Hub of Enterprise Connect,” says Healey. “We are therefore supportive of recommendations aimed at upgrading Enterprise Connect and turning it into a single front door for SME support.

“In addition to Enterprise Connect being equipped to provide knowledge and advice on the implications of broadband for the business models of its clients, it will help facilitate the expansion of innovation in our industry. This is an area we are developing in conjunction with the Hargraves Institute and are actively pursuing with Enterprise Connect.”

Printing Industries national manager, Policy and Government Affairs, Hagop Tchamkertenian, says that Printing Industries also supports some of the report’s other recommendations, including expanding access to finance for SMEs, succession planning and generational change, managing the transition of displaced workers, showcasing good practice in high performing workplaces, and the establishment of a Manufacturing Leaders Group to work on manufacturing related issues.

He says the report also recommended that the impacts of the carbon price needed to be ameliorated given the current competitive environment.

“We agree that this is a good position and we also support the move to monitor the impact via the Jobs and Competitiveness program, which support energy intensive businesses operating under the Carbon Price Mechanism, and refined as needed to ensure the global competitiveness of those sectors,” says Tchamkertenian. “Printing Industries is of the view that all sectors of manufacturing including printing, should be supported as rising energy costs will threaten the commercial viability of many printing businesses if they are forced for competitive reasons to absorb the carbon-related cost increases.”

Meanwhile, Healey says that Printing Industries will write to the Prime Minister and request representation on the proposed Manufacturing Leaders Group.

“We are an industry that is experiencing both cyclical and structural issues,” he says. “While the Report acknowledges the cyclical factors and recommends that a package of short-term measures be considered to help counter the cyclical factors confronting key manufacturing subsectors, it is silent on the more critical issue of supporting sectors such as printing to manage their structural issues.”

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