Asian import ballots docked

A GOVERNMENT plan to use imported paper for ballot papers and how-to-vote cards at the upcoming federal election has been slammed by industry, unionists and local representation.

Independent senators Nick Xenophon, John Madigan and Ricky Muir called on the Turnball Government to use only Australian-made paper for the expected 40 million ballot papers.

It is believed paper has been sourced from China, Indonesia and Thailand.

Mr Muir, the Gippsland-based Victorian senator, said if the election was to be fought on “jobs and growth”, he was sure voters would not be happy they were making their choice on imported paper that could have been sourced locally instead.

“This is particularly important with government contracts,” Mr Muir said.

Sitting Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester supported the calls for ballot paper to be Australian made.

Mr Chester said he was determined to see Federal Government procurement be spent in Australia.

Australian Paper said it understood significant volumes of printed material for the Australian Electoral Commission had recently been produced using paper imported from Asia.

AP sustainability communication and marketing manager Craig Dunn said federal election and ballot papers provided an ideal opportunity for political leaders to support sustainable local paper manufacturing and the thousands of flow-on regional jobs it supports.

“We estimate that around two thirds of government departments and agencies in Canberra are currently using imported copy paper,” Mr Dunn said.

He said the Maryvale site’s $90 million recycling plant would not operate close to full capacity unless the Federal Government applied its own National Waste Policy and recognised the landfill benefits of supporting local recycled paper.

“Australian Paper is asking that the Federal Government follow its own rules and recognises the emission savings and positive environmental outcomes generated by Australian made recycled paper in its procurement decisions.”

Australian Paper mill worker and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union sub-branch secretary Anthony Pavey said the government had put local jobs at risk by preferring imports over Australian-made paper.

“This election will be the most expensive in Australia’s history and it makes sense to support local jobs and economic activity as part of that process,” Mr Pavey said.