NEWS the Shoalhaven Paper mill has secured the contract for the next generation of Australian passports has been welcomed as one necessary step in securing the facility’s future.
The mill is under threat of closure due to a lack of orders.
However, its unique position as the only Australian manufacturer of national security papers such as those used in passports could help save it.
Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis was assured by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in a late night meeting at Parliament House on Tuesday that the future of passport paper production would remain at the Shoalhaven Paper mill.
“In fact the minister informed me that demand for passport paper over the next 12 months is expected to rise by almost 7 per cent, and that Shoalhaven Paper mill was crucial to developing a special paper for the biographical details page in the newly released P Series passport,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
“I will shortly be writing to Treasury and my state colleagues to also seek assurances that secure paper produced by our Mill for things like Reserve Bank bonds and secure police documents are also planned to continue in Nowra,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
General manager of Australian Paper, Print Wayne Stanistreet said the extension of the passport contract was welcome news.
“We are very happy Mrs Sudmalis brought this attention to our mill in Nowra,” he said.
“It is great the government is supporting us, and we applaud anything that is locked in on our paper.
“We must be mindful though that passport papers represent a small volume of the overall mill production.
“We look forward to more government support, but also need the support from the market as a whole including of course the printing industry.
“We know that the market demand for the high-end specialty and cover papers is declining, as well as the need for security papers, for example cheques.
“We call on the industry, including the government, to support Shoalhaven’s entire range including our recycled papers when printing reports, business cards and anything where a coloured paper is required”
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said both the government and Mrs Sudmalis deserved to be commended for recognising the local economic importance of the mill, as well as the security benefits of the specialist paper it produces.
However, CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor warned that a commitment to printing passports on Australian made paper alone would not secure the mill’s future and urged the Commonwealth to immediately reduce imports and commit to buying more Australian made paper.