Contract loss cuts deep

AUSTRALIAN Paper has been dealt a double blow this year after the State Government recently awarded its office supply contract to a company largely importing its paper from overseas.

The contract to supply State Government department and agencies with stationery, including copy paper, was awarded to Complete Office Supplies.

The contract was previously held by the main distributor of Australian Paper’s Maryvale-made product, Staples.

The State Government change in supplier came around the same time a Federal Government policy requiring departments and agencies use 100 per cent recycled paper lapsed and was not continued, sparking concerns over the $90 million recycling and de-inking plant at Maryvale.

Australian Paper chief operations officer Peter Williams told a public meeting last week the company had been hit with a double blow.

“Pretty much all copy paper being sold in Victoria was our paper (through Staples),” he said.

“At the same time of the Federal Government policy changing, the State Government has now gone to a new supplier for its copy paper. We’re definitely trying to move our product through that supplier but there’s a fair risk we may lose the Victorian Government volumes of copy paper as well.

“Those two things in combination are not good, particularly at a point in time in which Maryvale is under financial pressure.”

The State Government says the availability of Australian-made paper was considered in the Department of Treasury and Finance decision to award to the contract to Complete Office Supplies.

Finance Minister Robin Scott said more than 99 per cent of all copy paper procured by State Government departments and agencies last financial year was Australian-made.

“The government is committed to prioritising the purchase of Australian-made paper and boasts an excellent record,” Mr Scott said.

“DTF will continue to work with Australian Paper to gain access to the full range of Australian-manufactured paper products.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he planned to raise the issue with the minister in Parliament this week.

“It does cause great concern and consternation that there is a lack of locally made paper on this company’s list,” Mr Northe said.

“The meeting on Wednesday night flagged this issue as a major concern and it’s imperative the State Government addresses this.”