Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 2007 Note Printing Australia

Note Printing Australia Limited (NPA), based at Craigieburn in Victoria, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank, which produces banknotes for Australia and export and was the first banknote printer in the world to print on polymer substrate. With Securency Pty Ltd, which supplies print‑ready polymer substrate, it has led the way in establishing polymer technology as a viable alternative to paper for banknotes.

During 2006/07, NPA produced 245 million notes for the Reserve Bank and 213 million export notes, continuing the high level of production established the previous year. Among its export deliveries were orders for Banco Central de Chile, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the Brunei Currency and Monetary Board, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. A number of other banknote printers have now taken up the polymer technology, in many cases assisted by technology transfer from NPA.

Investment this year, including upgrades to two Intaglio printing presses and the leasing of a new numbering machine, has tightened process controls, improved print quality and increased productivity. The outlook is for another strong production year in 2007/08, with an order for 280 million notes from the Reserve Bank and confirmed export orders of 177 million notes for countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

NPA was awarded two medals at the 24th National Print Awards in the category of security printing. A gold medal was awarded for the Brunei $10,000 and a silver medal for the Brunei $500.

As the Reserve Bank has undertaken a program to improve the quality of banknotes in circulation, the National Note Processing and Distribution Centre (NNPDC), operated by NPA under contract from the Reserve Bank to reissue or withdraw circulating Australian notes, processed a significantly higher volume of notes than in recent years, achieving higher rates of productivity in the process.

NPA continued to work with Securency in research and development, marketing and customer support for international business. NPA has now printed 56 denominations for 18 countries, including Australia, since 1990. Securency has supplied polymer to overseas printers for a further 27 denominations in 12 countries. In all, 25 countries, covering all continents, have issued polymer notes. As well as Australia, New Zealand, Romania and Vietnam have converted all their denominations to polymer, while Brunei and Papua New Guinea are approaching full conversion.

In addition to banknotes, NPA prints other security documents, including Australia's passports. During 2006/07, 800,000 Australian passports were printed and assembled for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, of which 780,000 books were of the ‘M’ series electronic chip passports. The new design ‘N’ series passports are expected to be launched during 2008. In recent years NPA has widened the range of security products it offers using polymer note-printing technology, including by producing academic transcripts for a number of universities.

NPA's Board operates under a charter from the Reserve Bank Board and comprises Graeme Thompson (Chairman), Richard Warburton AO, Les Austin, Mark Bethwaite and Frank Campbell. Mark Bethwaite will leave the Board at the end of September 2007 after 17 years of valuable service, including a brief period as acting Managing Director.