National print association PrintNZ says it was “caught by surprise” on Friday when the New Zealand government announced that under new COVID-19 measures only major daily newspapers were considered essential services and that “all other printed newspaper and magazine production was to cease immediately.”  The move comes as the fight to declare printing and signmaking an essential service heats up on both sides of the Tasman. 
PVCA CEO Andrew Macaulay said all Australian print and packaging businesses that maintain the latest CoVid19 safe health work guidelines can continue to operate, "if that is their commercial decision.”
News Corp Australia has stopped printing 60 local newspapers because of a collapse in advertising revenue. News Corp announced on Wednesday it would turn its 60 community mastheads into digital-only products.

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“This decision came without consultation and in conjunction with the Community Newspapers Association we have spent the weekend talking to officials and MPs, writing submissions and doing interviews to hopefully have this overturned, “ said Ruth Cobb, general manager PrintNZ, the national association for the print, packaging and visual communications industries, in an update to members on Monday:

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"Counter-productive to reduce the channels
 of communication": Ruth Cobb, Print NZ.



 “Please be aware that these continue to be tweaked,” Cobb wrote. “On Friday afternoon we were caught by surprise when the Government announced that only the daily newspapers were considered essential services and all other printed newspaper and magazine production was to cease immediately.

“This decision came without consultation and in conjunction with the Community Newspapers Association we have spent the weekend talking to officials and MPs, writing submissions and doing interviews to hopefully have this overturned, a few of the key points being:  

“Over 1.2 million community newspapers are delivered each week and they play a very valuable role in disseminating both local and national information into our communities.

This decision would leave some communities without any printed papers as some of the regions such as Whakatane, Nelson and Marlborough are published 3-4 times weekly, not daily.

“There are many regions that geographically fall in between the coverage of the dailies and they are serviced by local papers. The dailies are all subscription based so this would exclude those not on a subscription or require people to leave their house each day to go to the dairy to buy a paper.

“Vulnerable people in the community could be left without news - the elderly, lower socio-economic households and those who rely on foreign language papers. At a time when communication is of paramount importance, it seems counter-productive to reduce the channels of communication, particularly print channels which we know are well read.

“We will continue to push this issue to get the decision reviewed and provide assurances to the Government that these services can continue without putting the community at risk. Likewise we will continue to monitor changes to the Essential Services list to ensure all our members are operating within approved parameters.”

David Mackenzie, president of the NZ independent community newspapers association, said the decision was made without any consultation, and has left his members reeling, deeply concerned about its impact on the areas they serve.

“The move discriminates against small communities,” he told The Spinoff. “Daily newspapers simply do not serve them… they only serve the towns they’re based in.” He cited areas like Ruapēhu and Waiheke as examples of areas with vibrant community newspapers which would be effectively cut off from local information by the move.

"Mackenzie says the motivation to continue publishing is in no way economic, but connected to the role the papers play in their towns. In fact, because of the advertising market evaporating, most would incur larger losses by printing, says Mackenzie, than they would by halting production."

In her eletter to members, Cobb also covered a range of other areas.



Yes, you can make a claim for the wage subsidy for your casual workers if they were working for you at the time you apply and would have been expected to work during the time the wage subsidy will cover.  As they may have variable hours, to assess their subsidy rate you should average their hours over the last year (or less if they have not worked 12 months).  If the average is 20 or more hours, apply for the full time subsidy ($585.80).  If it is less than 20 hours then apply for the part time subsidy ($350).

What if the wage subsidy is more than they earn?

If the wage subsidy you receive is more than an employee normally earns (this applies to all employees), you only pay them their normal wage.  I.e. if you have a person that works 20 hours per week @$20 per hour, their normal pay is $400.  You will receive a wage subsidy of $585.80 but you are only required to pass on $400 to them.  The balance of the subsidy can go towards topping up other employees' wages.  However you MUST spend the entire wage subsidy you receive on wages and you must be able to account for this.


 I found this article from MinterEllisonRuddWatts during the weekend about a clause that may be in some of your leases which could help you out if your business is closed.  It's worth a look.

You may be aware that some leases contain what is known as a “no access in an emergency” clause. This clause provides that if:

there is an emergency; and

the tenant is unable to gain access to the premises to fully conduct the Tenant’s business from the premises because of reasons of safety of the public or property or related to the emergency.

the tenant may claim an abatement of a “fair proportion” of the rent and outgoings for as long as the tenant cannot access the premises due to the emergency.

 There has been a fair amount of discussion about whether tenants can now make a claim under this clause.

 Our view is yes, they can. Since the Government’s COVID-19 response escalated to Level 4 from 25 March 2020, with all non-essential business directed to close their places of work, most tenants should be able to claim a rent and outgoings abatement if:

they are on a form of lease that contains this clause (which is found in any unamended ADLS lease form since 2012 at clause 27.5); and they do not operate an essential service from the premises.  

The ability to abate rent and outgoings (for non-essential business) could provide some significant relief to those businesses, many of whom are facing rental payments due on 1 April 2020.


On Saturday the Government issued their recommendations for the use of Personal Protective Equipment for people in essential jobs that may require physical or close contact.

If you can ensure more than 1 metre distance from people with potential COVID-19 symptoms and any surfaces or items they may touch – facemasks and gloves are not recommended.

If the nature of your job means you may touch surfaces or items also touched by people with potential COVID-19 symptoms, you may consider wearing gloves, however facemasks are still not recommended.

If you may be unable to maintain more than 1 metre contact distance from people with potential COVID-19 symptoms, facemasks and gloves are recommended when this contact is likely to occur.

In all situations, regular hand washing should continue.

These recommendations are a guide only and workplace settings should consider their ability to maintain the 1 metre rule. In general, surgical/medical masks prevent the dispersal of droplets by an infected patient and the inhalation of droplets if within 1 metre of a coughing individual.

Keep up the good work and stay safe.
Ruth Cobb


news corp logoNews Corp said it would suspend printing of 60 community newspapers in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia from April 9 because of a rapid decline in advertising revenues.

"During this unprecedented time it is imperative that we reduce costs while continuing to keep the community informed and doing all we can to retain jobs," said News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller.

"The print suspension will allow us to assess the shape of the market itself and future conditions, taking into account how the coronavirus situation unfolds in the coming period."

News Corp said the community mastheads would continue to publish digital news.

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Meanwhile, PVCA CEO Andrew Macaulay updated association members on details of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's COVID-19 measures announced on Sunday:

PVCA has prepared the following “Summary update from Prime Minister’s address from 7:30pm AEDT on Sunday, 29 March 2020” for the print and packaging industry. PVCA will continue to liaise with State and Federal Governments this week, and keep our industry’s interest in the forefront of Government CoVid19 response planning. PVCA voice of our industry. Please contact us at at any time. 

  • Print and packaging businesses that maintain the CoVid19 safe health work guidelines can continue to operate, if that is their commercial decision.
  • Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. Check State and Territory websites for further enforcement information.
  • Unless travelling to work, everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
  • People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
  • Evictions will be put on hold for 6 months by the states and territories. Landlords and renters are encouraged to talk about short term agreements. More information to come this week.
  • If you are in self-isolation because you are confirmed or suspected to have Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have been in close contact with a confirmed case, use this form to help us track the spread of the virus. Read more.
  • A safety net package of $1.1 billion has been announced by the Prime Minister to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief. Read more.
  • Stay informed. Download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join our WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
  • All travellers returning home from overseas will be quarantined in a hotel or designated facility for 14 days. Read more.
  • Pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms, skateparks, indoor sporting venues, cinemas, beauty salons, play centres and outside playgrounds, places of worship and other public places must be closed. There are restrictions on attendance at weddings, funerals and outdoor fitness classes. Supermarkets and pharmacies remain open. Please check your State and Territory websites for full details.
  • Print and packaging businesses that can maintain the CoVid19 safe health work guidelines can continue to operate.

If you have any questions, please email PVCA at at any time.


Andrew Macaulay

PVCA voice of our industry




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