It appears that a Claytons meeting was held yesterday between Australia Post and executives of industry bodies Publishers Australia and Major Mail Users Association, together with Publishing Houses including Nick Chan from Pacific Publications and executives from Reed Business Information and Haymarket Media aimed at overturning or having a stay of execution of Australia Posts recent announcement to increase postage costs . Australia Posts stated that the increase not negotiable . The increase as stated by Australia Post, and reported in PUBLISHING EDGE, as approved by the Australia Post board stands.
A last hope grab for deferring the increase was proposed by industry association Publishers Australia who have requested a meeting with Australia Post MD, Graeme Johns. An announcement is expected within the next week. The ramifications of this increase will undoubtedly place pressure on the survival of many small publishers reliant on controlled circulation titles as well as Publishers with multi frequency titles who will be forced to review budgets resulting in a cut in circulation to save on print and the subsequent savings in postage as well as staff reductions. The domino effect will also have a negative impact on printers, mailing houses and other media supply groups.
Publishers Australia chairman, Geoff Hird along with executive director Alan Sarkissian who attended yesterdays meeting ,will continue to negotiate with Australia Post in an attempt to lessen the impact of this untimely and regressive impost to business stimulus.
The media release from Publishers Australia under the heading AUSTRALIA POST DIGS IN AGAINST INDUSTRY OUTRAGE OVER PRICE HIKES outlining the background and outcome reads :-
NEWS RELEASE 4:44pm 24/6/2009
Australia Post digs in against industry outrage over price hikes.Publishers Australia Chairman and Operations Director of Westwick-Farrow Publishing Geoff Hird, along with the association's Executive Director Alan Sarkissian and other leading magazine publishers, met with senior executives of Australia Post earlier today.
Held at the head offices of Haymarket Media in McMahons Point, Sydney, Australia Post was represented by Rod Rose, Manager Letters - Products and Support Services Unit in the Letters Group, and Robert Gomezel, National Product Manager, Print Post.
Also attending the meeting was Jeremy Vaughan, CEO Haymarket Media, Nick Chan, CEO Pacific Magazines (and Chairman of the MPA), John Gilroy the CEO of MMUA, and Troy Stevens, Operations Director, Reed Business Information.
Australia Post has indicated it will lift its rates by 3.9% for parcels, 3.6% for Print Post and 3.1% for line-haul charges on the 6th of July. It is only nine months since the organisation last raised its rates, and this move comes at a time when the domestic magazine industry can ill afford another cost hike.
Since this controversial announcement was made there has been widespread anger over what most in the industry see as the dominant player playing hardball. At today's meeting convened by Publishers Australia, Mr Rose stated that Australia Post's position remained unchanged.
Mr Rose told those at the meeting that Australia Post would not be backing down. "The board has voted and it's going through," he told those around the table.
Their refusal to negotiate on their proposed increases suggests that even before the meeting, Australia Post had already made up its mind to ‘dig in' and weather the storm of protest they are receiving from all sides of the industry.
However, when Alan Sarkissian asked him if there was any possibility of at least deferring the price rises in order to soften the effect of the price hikes, Mr Rose promised to raise it with Australia Post's Managing Director, Graeme Johns.
"It's a disappointing result," said Alan Sarkissian, Executive Director of Publishers Australia, "in that it sends what the association believes is the wrong message to the Australian publishing industry. And that is, the market dominator can do just about whatever it wants to, whenever it wants to, no matter what the economic circumstances."
It now looks likely that some sections of the publishing industry will launch a reality check campaign against Australia Post. Unfortunately, another ramification of the price rises for publishers and suppliers will be job losses across the board, in an industry already challenged with sustaining business as usual.
Geoff Hird of Publishers Australia summed up the meeting this way. "We are living in an economic environment that nobody in business has experienced before, and it seems Australia Post (and in turn the Federal Government) is missing this point by pushing through the price rises. While the SME sector have to cut costs internally (including people), AP insist on dealing with cost pressures externally, via their customers, rather than internally like the rest of us. This seems to be at odds with the aims of the Government's stimulus package and their message to business of the need for restraint in tough times."
Publishers Australia believe that there is still some hope of deferment of the scheduled price hikes, and has written to the board of Australia Post as well a the Small Business Minister and Shadow Minister, and the Commonwealth Print Ombudsman to put forward the association's position on the matter, in order to seek a fair and just outcome for all.
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