Australian Paper announces closure of Shoalhaven plant – 75 jobs to go


Australian Paper has confirmed that the Shoalhaven Paper Mill on the New South Wales South Coast is set to close this year with the loss of 75 jobs.

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The company met with staff on Tuesday morning announcing it would be ceasing its operations at its Bomaderry plant.

In a media release, Australian Paper said that the decision was reached following a “lengthy review”.

The manufacturing facilities in NSW will close during this year. Some sources report that the closure could be as soon as June.

“Despite the best efforts and ongoing support of our people at Shoalhaven over a number of years to remain competitive, the market for specialty and security papers such as cheque and watermark papers has continued to experience a significant and sustained drop in demand. Unfortunately, this has made the ongoing operation of the site progressively unviable,” said Peter Williams, Australian Paper’s Chief Operating Officer.

“This situation has left us with no choice but to close the Shoalhaven facility which will result in the loss of 75 jobs. The exact timing of the closure is yet to be finalised but production will cease during 2015, taking into full consideration the needs of our valued customers.”

Mr Williams added that all workers will be paid their full entitlements.

“We understand this decision will be difficult for employees at Shoalhaven who have witnessed machine closures at the site in recent times as market conditions have deteriorated. We greatly appreciate their sustained hard work and commitment over many years. As we work through the details of the closure with employees, and their respective unions, I want to assure them that we will be there to help them through this process,” he added.

Alex Millar, Secretary of the CFMEU Pulp & Paper Workers District, told the Armidale Express that the Abbott Government failed to listen to the Shoalhaven community, the mill workers, and its own local member.

“They weren’t asking for a handout or injection of cash, simply a change in the government’s purchasing arrangements to buy more paper supplied by the mill, and less from overseas,” Mr Millar said.

“This is a devastating blow to the 75 workers at the mill, and the broader Shoalhaven community. It will result in the loss of 150 flow-on jobs and $20 million in regional household income in the local economy.”

According to Mr Millar, over 10,000 jobs – 16% of the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands workforce – have been lost since September 2013.

The mill has been operating since 1956 and has manufactured Australia’s passport paper for over 30 years as the only paper mill in Australia with the capability to manufacture security paper.