New lasw introduced by former Victorian Attorney general Jan Wade has threatened to send dozens of small publishers to the wall. And Steve Bracks’ government has so far failed to help.
By A Friend of Crikey and Victim of Jan Wade

Victorian Labor-faction leader Marsha Thomson is failing to assist small publishers caught in a legislative nightmare set up by former Liberal State Attorney-General Jan Wade.

The Fair Trading Act 1999 has made it a $24,000-penalty offence for about 400 small publishers to publish advertisements, unless they have signed and written orders for every ad before going to press.

The law was set up to wipe out shonky publishers who abused telemarketing, and sold up to $5 million nationally every year in bogus publications.

Instead, the law has hamstrung 400 Victorian publishers that turn over more than $20 million annually.

Large publishers have been exempted from the requirements.

Director of Fair Trading, Jane Reynolds, admits the new legislation has netted the reputable as well as the disreputable.

And Ms Thomson, the Labor Party’s new Minister for Fair Trading, is refusing to give exemptions to well-established individual publishers with fine track records for fair trading.

Patrick L’Estrange is one of the state public servants, that has been contacting various small publishers, warning them to operate within the confines of the new laws, which make it practically impossible for the small publications to stay in print.

“This new law has little to do with fair trading. It is all to do with big publishers knocking out smaller opposition with one legislative pen stroke,” said one publisher, who operates a free publication on the outskirts of Melbourne.

“Publishers who are public companies are exempt from any of the restrictions. So are their subsidiaries. So are high-circulation, audited distribution weeklies. And so are the well-connected and well-moneyed members of the Victorian Country Press Association.

“But if you are not in the money club, you suddenly have to have pre-signed, pre-written orders from customers with who you have been doing business for years. These customers take it as a personal insult.”

Take the example of two weekly newspapers in the Victorian regional town of Seymour. The Seymour Telegraph is owned by the powerful McPherson family who also operate the daily Shepparton News. They have an exemption from having to obey the Fair Trading Act rules. Yet the independently-owned Seymour Advertiser published by Keith Peplar for eight years, which has a bigger weekly circulation but is not part of the establishment circles, has to have a pre-signed, pre-written order from every advertiser prior to printing.

It means telemarketing and e-commerce are allowed to the moneyed-publishers, whilst the independents have to rely on old fashioned door-to-door selling and impossible deadlines. The new so-called Fair Trading Act offers a non-level playing ground advantage to the big publishers.

The same applies on the Mornington Peninsula. Rupert Murdoch’s Mornington Peninsula Leader is exempt. So is The Frankston-Hastings Independent which is partly owned by State Liberal MP Keith Smith. Yet the independent Flier fortnightly, run by maverick John Gannan, is the only paper that has to run to the letter of the new Act.

Little community monthlies like Whittlesea’s Town Crier, Kinglake’s Mountain Monthly, Ocean Grove’s Whistler, and the Diamond Creek News could all go out of business under the new law.

Ms Thomson, sworn in as Fair Trading Minister before even serving a day in State Parliament, says she may entertain applications from a reputable trade body whose members do not have “phone blowers”, and who would abide by a suitable code of conduct.

A small group of publishers are meeting under the banner of the Australian Institute of Publishers, and plan to form their own association over the next month, to make an exemption application to Ms Thomson.

Some of the publications likely to be affected by the new Fair Trading Act:

Weekly Publications

Ad-Mag

Frankston-Longbeach Flier

Free Classifieds

Peninsula Flier

Melbourne Trading Post (?)

Seymour-Nagambie Advertiser

Things That Go

Local League Football Records Amateur Footballer

Fortnightly Publications

Craigieburn Your Gazette

Epping Golden Magazine

Student Publications

Catalyst

Farrago

Lot’s Wife

Meridian

Rabelais

Swine

Monthly Publications

Around Laverton Community Newspaper

Banyule Community Newspaper

Bayswater

Inside Out

Boronia Newsletter

The Buzz

Diamond Creek News

Flowerdale

Newsletter

Hurstbridge This Week

Kinglake Mountain Monthly

Lorne

Whistler

Lysterfield Newsletter

Melbourne’s Child

Park Orchards Local

Paper

Peninsula Your Week

Quality Time

Whittlesea Town Crier

Ethnic Publications

Athletic Echo

Australian Israel Review

Australian Latvian News

Australian Macedonian Weekly

Beseda

Chinese Age

Chinese Australian

Chinese Weekly

DAS Journal

Dutch Courier

Dutch Weekly

Greek Times

Gunes

Hrvatski

Vjesnik (Croatian Herald)

Il Progresso Italo Australian

Indian Australian

Indian Voice

Inside Indonesia

Maygar Elet

Melbourne Chinese Post

Nea

Ellada

Neue Heimat Und Welt

Nhan Quyen

O’Syndikalistis

Odysseus

Panorama

Phillipine Times

Suomi

Ta Nea

Tide Chinese Post

Tivi Tuan –

San

Tsahpina

Tserkva I Zhyttia

Turkish Report

Tygodnik Polski

Warta

Berita Aquila

Yuanxiang (Otherland)

Zaman International Newspaper

Periodic Publications Abacus, Accounting and Finance

ACER Psychnews

AD2000

AEU News

Aftermarket

Agriculture Science

Airborne Magazine

Airwaves

Allergology International

Alpacas Australia

Amateur Radio

Ancestor

APPITA Journal

Architect Victoria

Architecture Australia

Arena Magazine

Asian Journal of Mining

Asphalt Review

Aurealis – Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction

Aurora

Ausbeer and Home Winemaking

Ausimm Bulletin

Australasian Bedding

Australasian Biotechnology

Australasian Drilling

Australasian Flooring Magazine

Australasian Floors News

Australasian Furnishing News

Australiasian Furnishing Trade Journal

Australasian Journal of Dermatology

Australasian Radiology

Australasian Science

Australasian Ships and Ports

Australasian Taekwondo

Australasian Textiles and Fashion

Australian and New Zealand Flyfishers Annual

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery

Australian and NZ Journal of Mental Health Nursi! ng

Australian and NZ Journal of Opthalmology

Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health

Australian Architecture Review

Australian Ballet News

Australian Athlete

Australian Better Gardens and Home Ideas

Australian Book Review

Australian Books In Print

Australian Bride

Australian Catholics

Australian China Review

The Australian Christian

Australian CPA

Australian Cricket Tourguide

Australian Dairy Foods

Australian Deer Farming

Australian Educator

Australian Family

Australian Family Physician

Australian Farmers’ and Dealers’ Journal

Australian Food Shop

Australian Forest Grower

Australian Freediving and Spearfishing News

The Australian Funeral Director

Australian Furniture and Furnishings

Australian Hardware Journal

Australian Holstein Journal

Australian Hospital Engineer

Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors’ Journal

Australian Insurance Institute Journal

Australian Ironman & Bodybuilding Magazine

The Australian Jersey

Australian Jewe! ller

Australian Journal of Botany

Australian Journal of Career Devel opment

Australian Journal of Chemistry

Australian Journal of Earth Sciences

Australian Journal of Ecology

Australian Journal of Entomology

Australian Journal of Environmental Management

Australian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy

Australian Journal of Physics

Australian Journal of Physiotherapy

Australian Journal of Podiatric Medicine

Australian Journal of Rural Health

Australian Journal of Soil Research

Australian Journal of Zoology

Australian Macworld

Australian Meat Industry Bulletin

Australian Multicultural Book Review

Australian Music Teacher

Australian Nursing Journal

Australian Occupational Therapy Journal

Australian Optometry Newspaper

Australian Orienteer

Australian Parks and Leisure

Australian Pipeliner

Australian Plant Engineer

Australian Plumbing Industry Magazine

Australian Poll Dorset Journal

The Australian Presbyterian

Australian Psychiatry

Australian Scout

Australian R & D Review

Australian Short Stories

Australian Street Roddin! g

Australian TAFE Teacher

Australian Triathlete

The Australian Writer

Auto Industry Australia

Auto Parts and Accessories Journal

Automotive Electrical and Air Conditioning News

Badminton Beat

BDAV News

Beef

Beef Improvement News

Bicycle Industry News

Blitz Martial Arts Magazine

Boat

Bowls In Victoria

Building and Construction and Cazaly’s Contract Reporter

Building Surveyor

Business Motoring

Business World Magazine

CAD User

Call Centre News

Camping in Victoria

CAMS Report

Centoria

Chain Reaction

Challenge

Chemsitry in Australia

Chill Factor

Cinema Papers

Clean Air

Cleaning Today

Clinical and Experimental Optometry

Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology

Club Marine Magazine

Collectormania

Commercial Vehicle News

Community Quarterly

Compak

Computer Market

Core

Corporate Risk

Corrosion and Materials

Country Connection

Crosslight

Customer Magazine

CV News

The Dawn

Decorating Australasia

Defender

Design Graphics

De! sktop

Development Growth and Differentiation

Diabetes Today

Directi ons In Education

Dirt And Track

Discover Melbourne

Divine

DIY Superannuation

Down’s Voice

East Senior

Earth Garden

Echo Journal

Education Horizons

Electrical Connection

Emergency Medicine

Eureka Street

Evangel Now

Facet Talk

Family Matters

The Far East

Fatal Visions

Feathers and Fur

Feline Focus

Festivals Victoria

Fifty Plus News

Fine Print

Fire Australia

The Fireman

First Steps On The Ladder of Learning

Fishing Boat World

Flightpath

Focus on Building

Food Shop Journal

Folk News

Footwear News Australia

Forte Victoria

Free Wheel

Freemasonry Victoria

Freshwater Fishing Australia

Gallery

Furniture Retailing Today

The Genealogist

GEO Australasia

The Gippsland Anglican

Golf In Victoria

Good Health Magazine

Grassroots

Greenworld

Gym Vision Magazine

HB & B Magazine

Heavy and Duty

Hello Melbourne

Hire and Rental Australasia

Horse Magazine

IAMA Business News

Impressions

Imprint

In Psych

Independence

Infocab

Info Management ! and Computer Security

Information Management Today

Inside Interior Review

Inscape

Inside Racing

Intellectual Disability Australia

International Journal of Nursing Practice

Invertebrate Taxonomy

IPA Review

Island ABC

Investigator

IT: The Australian Music Collectors Mag

Kairos

Japanese Circulation Journal

Jetsetters

Journal of Business Continuity

Journal of Gastroenterolgy and Hepatology

Journal of Quality In Clinical Practice

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

Just 4x4s

Kerb

Kidsafe

Lab Talk

Lakes and Reservoirs

Landscape Australia

Landscope

Let’s Find Out

Living Now!

Local Government Focus

Look

Madonna

Maintenance Journal

Majellan

Marine and Freshwater Research

Market Victoria

Marketing

Master Builder

Masthead

Materials Australia

The Melbourne Anglican

Melbourne Gastronomic Menu Guide

Melbourne Palate

Melbourne Senior

The Melburnite

Metro Education

Migration Action

Misanthrope

Motorsport News

Movie Mates Newsletter

Movin! g Image

National Accountant

National Forests and Timber

National Ba ptist Magazine

National Water Polo News

The Natural Energy

New Dawn

Nephrology

New Life

News Bulletin of the Australian Bookellers Association

News Weekly

Newsline

Nocturnal Submissions

Northern Senior

Nursing Inquiry

Off The Wind

On Demand Imaging Technology

On The Road

One On One

Outlook

Overland

Owner Builder

Owners Own

Ozwords

Paediatrics International

Pandora Journal

Papers

Park Watch

Pathology International

Pendulum

Peninsula Visitor

Peninsula Wine Country

Period Home Renovator Magazine

Philanthropy

Photomaster

Physiotherapy Moves

Plastics News International

Playgrouper

Poetrix

Pome Fruit Australia

Power Equipment Australia

Prime Focus

Prime Time

Pro Basketball Today

Professional Fisherman

Professional Update

Property Newsfile

Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences

Psychotherapy in Australia

Publications of ther Astronomical Society of Australia

Pursuit

Quadrant

Quarry

Radio Control Cars For Dirt and Track

Radio Control! Model News

The Radiographer

Record

Renew

Respirology

Revolver

Rex Hunt’s Fishing Adventures

Rock

Rock Art Research

Rotary Down Under

Runner’s World Australia

Rural Senior

SAE Australasia

School Bell

School Resources and Project Materials

Sellers and Sources

Sensitivity Matters

SF Commentary

Ships And Boats On Order

Shopfront

Signs of The Times

Single Life Magazine

Ski Extra Magazine

Soccer Australia

Soccer International

Southern Senior

Special Days

Special Weeks Victoria

Sport Diving

Sport Fishing Asphalt

Stage Whispers,Supplier Builder and Renovator

Supplier Woodworking

Surface Coatings Australia

Surveying Australia

Swag of Yarns

Tamba

Tattoos Downunder

Taxi Talk

The Taxpayer

Telcall Magazine

Ten

Tennis News

Timbertrader

Tirra Lirra

Top Dog Journal

Tourism Directions

Training and Development in Australia

Training for Growth

Training Today

Track and Signal

Trees and Natural Resources

Triathlon & Multi Sport

Undercover!

Vicdoc

Vicdog

Victorian Baptist Witness

Victorian Netballer

Vict orian Probian

Victorian Retailer Magazine

Victorian Senior

VMUG News

VMX – Vintage Motocross and Dirt Bike

Voiceworks

Wake

Wedding Magazine

Western Senior

What’s Hot On Video

When The Hurlyburly’s Done

Without Prejudice

Wild

Wingspan

Winning Post

Women In Sport

Women’s Fitness Australia

Woorilla

Work Boat World

Write On

Xsell

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