Apple Gets Closed-Door Briefing In Canberra As Part Of Australia Tax Inquiry

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]


Comments

    It's probably because there isn't a nice way to say price fixing.

    Haha, Adobe. The worst offender of the lot.

    Master Collection 6: $3,948.75 AUD OR $2,599.00 USD That's a $1349.75 premium or a nice 34% addition - and I'm talking digital download. No extra staffing, storage, shipping, warehousing, etc. A plain, simple download. A 10% increase for GST would be the only reasonable price increase (maybe a slight buffer of 1-2%) to account for the fluctuating Aussie dollar but that's it. Not 34%!

    They're a joke and wonder why people pirate their products!

    How is Apple one of the worst offenders exactly? 99c apps in the US are 99c apps here.

    Apple TV is US$99 and AU$109(incGST)

    I don't see why you've included Apple as an 'offender' at all, unless you're referring to the higher prices we pay for music on iTunes, but then that is a matter for the music labels not Apple.

      I think the author is pointing the finger more at Apple's desktops and laptops, rather than their mobile products and software services

        I don't know about that;

        Base Macbook Pro - US$1199 (no tax) - AU$1349 (inc gst) a massive $30 difference including tax.

        Not much difference at all....

          All I know is that Kogan sells grey-market ipads and iphones. There must be a price difference in the world otherwise why would he bother?

          Also, it's not always about AUD$ vs USD$. Sometimes it's AUD$ vs CHINA$ (I don't have a Yen button on my keyboard)

          Apple have brought their pricing much closer since the announcement of this enquiry and in the last round of products.

            Apple's pricing was on par way before the announcement.

      Never used to be the case. They've come back into line a bit since the annoucement...

    Another offender is SONOS
    Play5 : US$399 - AU$599
    Play3: US$299 - AU$419
    SUB: US$699 - AU$999

    LOL Apple not an offender. I'm guessing you're joking.

      i'm guessing your not just a hater and can show price differences?

    All tech companies are offenders. There is more to Apple than just Music, there is books, videos, movies, Hardware as well, which I'm guessing is what they will be talking about but anway...moving on.

    If Australia gets cost reductions on Internet Software then I'll be very happy. EA Origin and Steam have large differences between games sold in US to Australia and then there is Microsoft Technet Online which is a huge cost here in Australia compared to the price to USA. It's double in some cases or more. Internet downloading should be cheaper (depending on exchange) than US prices

      Steam/Valve don't set prices for other publishers games, neither do Apple for apps, music, books or videos they're set by record companies, publishers and movie studios or tv networks and Apple takes its 30% cut which is why they cost more. Similar to a shopping center, charging higher rental because the stores will get a lot more customers coming past.

      It's not a new concept and the government should let a competitive market decide what we pay!

    It would have been great to have audio/hifi/home theatre manufactures to be included into this too. They (Sony, Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo) charge a heap more here than overseas.

    What will have appened is that Apple will have requested to give its evidence "in camera". This means an official hearing with no outside observers. Notes will be taken and a transcript made, just not publicly published in Hansard. In camera sessions are granted when the evidence to be given is of a sensitive nature, and commercial concerns qualify. They can also be granted when the evidence adversely reflects on a third party or has a bearing on legal proceedings. In camera hearings are often useful, because they allow full and frank discussion. Apple can answer freely and without concern that the information will disadvantage them competetively. It also allows free ranging discussion which might touch on areas that are not directly relevant but would otherwise be commercially confidential. The in camera evidence will still inform the report, and the committee has the power to publish the evidence at a later date if the circumstances warrant such action. You can also apply for the records to be released, but without reasonable evidence that there is a compelling public interest to do so, you are likely to be knocked back.

    Governments are not businesses, governments work for the people and there should be nothing kept secret from the people (public) and people should have the right to know why they are being ripped off in a fully transparent way with full disclosure.
    The old "information can't be disclosed because of Commercial in Confidence, or Privacy BS is only a smokescreen to cover up the truth they don't want the people to know.

    Apple is hardly a problem. Go look at Canon's pricing for the 5D Mk III.....

    Local eBook price "experiments" - eg eBooks much more expensive than hardback on amazon, depending on the phase of the moon (as far as I can tell). Go get-em, inquiry, not Amazons fault, decimate the local distributors. Hachette Livre particularly - throw all the local staff out on the street and let us buy direct, they do nothing to support local genre authors anyways, just lining their own lazy pockets with well know authors at our expense. Off to torrent another ebook while I wait for my USA sourced paper-based products to arrive - sadly cheaper than amazon local e-book prices thanks to these greedy scum.

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