Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 1996 Note Printing Australia

Note Printing Australia (NPA) manufactures currency notes for Australia and some other countries, as well as a range of other security products. NPA is a Division of the Bank, but operates as a separate business unit. It had a total staff of 263 at 30 June 1996.

During the year NPA produced 335 million notes, an increase of 75 million, or 29 per cent, over the previous year. This total comprised 285 million Australian notes and 50 million notes for overseas customers. The latter included circulating polymer notes for Papua New Guinea and Brunei, and a commemorative note for Thailand. The increased production was boosted by the issue of Australia's new $50 and $100 denomination notes; given the much greater durability of polymer notes, production of domestic currency notes is expected to decline sharply over the years ahead.

Efforts continue to attract orders from overseas, including through displays at conferences and marketing missions. Such activities have elicited a number of enquiries and led to several overseas printers trialling polymer substrate in their plants.

Early in 1996 the Reserve Bank and UCB Films PLC, a Belgium-based manufacturer of specialised polypropylene films, formed a joint venture company to market and supply polymer substrate to other note printers. This company will also direct a research and development program aimed at further enhancing both the security and handling features of polymer substrates.

In November 1995 an initial contract was signed with a major foreign note issuer for the licensing and supply of a High Level Authentication System for validating notes as they are returned from circulation; further export sales could follow. NPA is also building a reputation as a high-quality printer of other products, including intaglio postage stamps and passports, recording a 27 per cent growth in sales revenue from such items in the past year. Its work was recognised at the 13th National Print Awards where it was awarded two medals for postage stamp products.

In December a new one-year Enterprise Bargaining Agreement was finalised between NPA and its unions. An important focus of the Agreement related to improvements in NPA's quality control systems. The Agreement also established a Strategic Action Council consisting of eight members – four senior managers, and two staff and two union representatives – with the aim of giving employees a greater input into NPA's strategic planning, particularly as it faces the challenge of reduced domestic orders and the need to rely more on overseas customers in what is a very competitive international market.

The Chairman of the NPA Board is GJ Thompson, Deputy Governor. Other members are FM Bethwaite, Managing Director, Renison Goldfields Consolidated Limited, RFE Warburton, a member of the Reserve Bank Board, and RL Larkin, Managing Director of Note Printing Australia. Mr Warburton was appointed to the Board on 6 February 1996, following the death of JN Davenport, a founder member of the NPA Board and a past member of the Reserve Bank Board.