Shutting Murarrie, News 'focuses on inhouse print needs'

With the announcement that its Murarrie (Brisbane) print site will close, and current development of a greenfield site in Melbourne, News Corp may have "only the capacity it needs for its own newspapers".

That was the response from News' executive general manager of production, logistics and property Marcus Hooke this morning, in a response to questions from GXpress.

"We're building the capacity we need in Truganina," he said. As to whether News would print Nine Entertainment Company's The Age and the Australian Financial Review when the print site was operational early next year, "you'll have to ask NEC," he said.

News' decision to close Murarrie and focus operations on the more flexible but smaller plant on the Sunshine Coast at Yandina has been announced in its metro daily Courier-Mail, which will be the biggest job to be handled there.

Hooke said the Yandina facility has newer presses with heatset printing capability, and will also print the Courier Mail for audiences in central Queensland, Wide Bay and the Sunshine Coast, as well as its Queensland country and Brisbane metropolitan editions, as well as the Queensland, Coffs Harbour, Grafton and Lismore editions of Sydney metro the Daily Telegraph, The Australian and the Sunday Mail.

Consolidation will take effect from April next year, and would be accompanied by some job losses. News has already closed its Warwick and Rockhampton operations - both former APN print sites with Manugraph presses - and the staff have been made redundant. "We're deciding whether to sell or scrap the equipment," Hooke told GXpress.

With the closure in recent years of Fairfax's Ormiston site and Matt Horton's Horton Media, News - which also has a print site in Townsville - has become the only publisher in Queensland with its own printing equipment.

After 13 "very interesting years" with News - which he joined from toothpaste-maker Colgate - Marcus Hooke told the GXpress the current transitions were the most challenging, and the focus was now on looking after the people affected.

He paid tribute to staff at Murarrie and Yandina "whose unfailing professionalism and dedication to getting the paper out has never wavered.

"We'll continue working closely with affected employees and their representatives as we have done at every stage of this process."

Peter Coleman

Pictured: The Yandina print centre

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