When the Parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing and the “Australia tax” kicked off, it was meant to give the government, and ordinary people like us, an insight into why international vendors charge more for their technology when it comes Down Under. Instead, vendors were silent in submissions and now Apple is getting its own private briefing in Canberra behind closed doors.
The Australian Financial Review reports this morning that Apple will meet with politicians today in Canberra to discuss its position on local pricing. Nobody but those involved will be allowed into the meeting, and no notes are to be taken, the AFR reports.
Since submissions closed around a fortnight ago, the only major US company to have its submission posted online in full is Microsoft. There are three confidential submissions on the parliamentary inquiry page, and still nothing from the big offenders like Adobe, Apple, Nikon or Canon.
When this inquiry kicked off, Federal Member for Chifley, Ed Husic, told us that the inquiry would give the industry the opportunity to make the reason for price discrepancies in the local market known:
[The inquiry] gives IT firms a chance to educate the public on the factors they take into account when shaping their pricing approach. No one doubts that IT firms should be able to recover legitimate costs but the Australian consumer shouldn’t shoulder an unfair share of the pricing load.
To me, the fact that few vendors are willing to go on the record makes it look like they’re giving the finger to Australian consumers. It looks like the vendors don’t want you to know why they’re charging extra. You just have to pay it. Even worse, it looks like vendors will tell the government about it if compelled to, but the government won’t pass those reasons onto us.
We’ll have to wait until the final report comes out to see if anyone is quoted from these big offenders, but based on this behaviour, I strongly doubt it. [AFR]