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Picton hearing adjourned until later this month

Friday, 10 May 2019
By Wayne Robinson

Seeking consent: Picton Press directors Gary Kennedy (left) and Dennis Hague

The long-running battle between the ATO and Picton Press is set to continue for a few more weeks, with the judge ordering the case into court later this month following Consent Orders.

A consent order is made after parties, who have reached their own agreement, have applied to a court for consent orders. Consent orders, if they become a formal court order, have the same status as if the order had been made after a hearing by a judicial officer.

The ATO has been challenging the Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) organised by administrator Cor Cordis, the terms of which would see at least 98 per cent of Picton’s $1.3m tax debt wiped out, leaving the tax office with between $13,000 and $26,000.

“The matter’s been adjourned to a date between the fifteenth and the twenty-second of May, so the parties can continue to discuss it,” said a spokesperson from Cor Cordis.

Under the terms of the controversial DOCA, all creditors owed more than $10,000 – which includes the ATO and a major paper supplier – will receive between one and two cents in the dollar, while all those under will get 100 cents.

The DOCA went through in October, and the ATO has been challenging it ever since through a succession of court hearings. Following the court’s knockback of the ATO’s case in December, it appealed and named the administrators Jeremy Nipps and Cliff Rocke as defendants, as well as the company itself and the two directors.

The terms of the DOCA have also caused uproar in the rest of the Perth printing community, which says it’s having to price jobs on paying 100 per cent of their tax and paper bills, while Picton is able to operate on a different basis.

The ATO first sought a winding-up order a year ago, with Picton director Gary Kennedy and Dennis Hague putting the business into voluntary administration. Cor Cordis first tried to sell the business with no success, then went for the DOCA.

Picton’s troubles began six years ago when it put in a B1 ten-colour perfector, which even at the time it was ordered was viewed as ambitious for Perth. Not long after it was installed the mining boom collapsed and the WA economy tanked, leaving Picton’s revenue below its forecasts.

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