State government cuts $2m of print by going online

State government cuts $2m of print by going online
The NSW government has followed the trend of cuts to public sector print by slashing its annual report printing to save $2 million.

Premier Barry O'Farrell announced that about 50,000 copies of reports would no longer be printed as 180 agencies and organisations published their reports online.

It follows the Federal government's decision to cut its print spend by $6 million and the Queensland government's decision to exit commercial printing.

Progress Printing, based in the NSW town of Condobolin, said the cuts were particularly inconvenient because the 10-staff firm had done quotes, stock selection and follow-ups for four jobs.

The firm had expected orders "at any minute" before the state government announced the change of policy on 9 October with no notice period, said sales manager Jeremy Voss.

"My concern was the government's timing. It was just wrong. They should have notified the departments sooner," he said.

Voss said Progress had been doing five or six reports per year and making $3,000-$6,000 on each job.

"It's a drop in the bucket in dollar terms to the government but not exactly what’s needed in the current climate."

[Related: FedGov defends print buying strategy]

Bill Healey, chief executive of the Printing Industries Association of Australia, said he was surprised by O'Farrell's "disappointing" decision and would raise it with the NSW government.

"The evidence is still strong that people prefer to read those sort of things in a printed format rather than online," he told ProPrint.

"There's a real issue about transparency. This is a cost of democracy. This is not a cost issue; this is an accessibility issue. The annual reports are supposed to justify the activities of the department. The department should be reporting its key strategic objectives."

SOS Print & Media Group, another company affected by the NSW government's decision, called for a more flexible approach.

Director Michael Schultz said citizens should have the option to read the reports online or order free print-on-demand copies.

"I hope at some stage they might come back to a more cross-media kind of approach," he told ProPrint.

"Government should be interesting in having people read that information. It's in their interest to have educated citizens."

O'Farrell said he was "determined every dollar of taxpayers’ money is spent wisely" and that all existing contractual arrangements would be honoured.

[Related: public sector print strategy]


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