Last Reflex white paper batch is made in Australia after Holden, Bonds outsourced

First cars and Bonds clothing, now Australia doesn’t even make white paper – with a ‘sad’ selfie showing the moment the last batch came off the line

  • White paper follows cars and clothes out of Australia 
  • The last car was made in 2017, Bonds moved out in 2009 
  • Last ream of Reflex white paper produced on January 21 

First it was cars and Bonds clothing that stopped being made in Australia, now, due to a lack of timber and an endangered animal, not even white paper is made here.

A worker at Maryvale paper mill in Victoria said seeing the last ream of white paper come off the line ‘was a very sad moment’ – one that will also see back to school costs for some paper products rise by up to 50 per cent in the short term.

The last Holden Commodore rolled off the assembly line at Elizabeth, South Australia on October 19, 2017 and it will be a day forever ingrained in the nation’s history.

The manufacture of the iconic Bonds, King Gee and Hard Yakka clothes was already long gone, moved out of Australia to Asia by then owner Pacific Brands in 2009. 

The solemn dates are now joined by January 21, 2023 – the day the last batch of Reflex white paper was produced at Maryvale, 160km south-east of Melbourne. 

Trevor Patton (left) and co-workers from the Maryvale paper mill are pictured with the last ream of Reflex white paper produced there

Trevor Patton (left) and co-workers from the Maryvale paper mill are pictured with the last ream of Reflex white paper produced there

Normally the outsourcing of products is done to cut production costs and bring down the price for consumers.

But the latest manufacturing casualty is set to send the price of paper soaring as the end of production is being forced by domestic issues, not competition from overseas. 

This is bad news for anyone buying office supplies, exercise books, envelopes or printing prescriptions, bills, posters and more. 

Ben Kearney, of the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association, said this means ‘Copy paper will be at least 50 per cent more expensive in the short term,’ he told ABC

He is also concerned that even in the medium term it is going to be very to difficult get enough supplies of copy paper. 

Reflex’s parent company Opal Australian Paper suspended white paper production indefinitely at the Maryvale mill due to a lack of timber. 

In November, the timber industry in Victoria said a Supreme Court decision threatened its future. 

The court ordered stricter rules for VicForests operations, finding that the government-owned agency broke the law by not adequately protecting the yellow-bellied glider and the endangered greater glider in Victoria. 

VicForests has appealed the Supreme Court decision. 

Trevor Patton was working at Maryvale mill on Saturday when the final ream produced in Australia – possibly ever – came off the line.

The last Holden Commodore (pictured) rolled off the assembly line at Elizabeth, South Australia on October 19, 2017

The last Holden Commodore (pictured) rolled off the assembly line at Elizabeth, South Australia on October 19, 2017

VicForests broke the law by not adequately protecting the endangered greater glider (pictured), leading to timber supply problems

VicForests broke the law by not adequately protecting the endangered greater glider (pictured), leading to timber supply problems

‘It was very surreal for us guys that have been there for anywhere between 10 to 20 years, it was a bit strange to see that last ream.’

‘We took a photo and we were smiling in the photo … but that wasn’t the way we were feeling at the time. It was a very sad moment.’

Opal had already stood down 37 workers at the mill from New Year’s Day due to a shortage of materials. 

The company has not said it will permanently stop making white paper but that it was ‘seriously considering’ the closure of its white paper manufacturing.

It previously made up to 200,000 tonnes of white paper per year, with 300 reams of paper a minute being produced.

The mill is one of the biggest employers in the Latrobe Valley and the area is still reeling from the loss of other major employers such as the Hazelwood power station and coal mines. 

Mr Patton, who has worked at the Opal plant for 16 years, is not sure about what the future holds.

‘I’m supposed to go back (to work) next Saturday, but at this stage it doesn’t look like they’re going to have anything for us to do,’ he said.

‘We’ll be temporarily stood down until they can work out what they’re going to do with us all.’ 

The manufacture of iconic Bonds clothing (pictured) was moved out of Australia to Asia by then owner Pacific Brands in 2009

The manufacture of iconic Bonds clothing (pictured) was moved out of Australia to Asia by then owner Pacific Brands in 2009

There is a possibility a new supply of timber could be found, but in the meantime Opal said workers who are stood down will receive full pay until the middle of February.

Adam Joy, the CEO of Office Brands, which represents office product companies, said 98 per cent of paper bought by members was from the Maryvale mill. 

He said businesses are now now ordering supplies form overseas and ‘just hoping that it arrives in time’.

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