The first and only scheduled hearing (so far) for the long-awaited IT Pricing Inquiry took place today. Companies came from near and far to plead their collective case as to why Australians are paying more for their tech and games. Here's a wrap up of everything that went on.
Before MPs had even taken their seats this morning, controversy was already brewing about the empty seats where Apple and Microsoft should have been. Why were these seats empty? Well, Apple has already had a closed-door, off-the-record hearing before parliament, while Microsoft opted only to make a submission (PDF) rather than an appearance.
According to The Australian Financial Review, Apple shifted the blame for highly priced iTunes tracks onto record labels and copyright holders, who reportedly set the prices for the content that Apple on-sells. Apple also blamed taxes and local warranty requirements in Australia for the price discrepancies between local products and those sold in the US.
Adobe also gave the inquiry the cold shoulder, despite the fact that the company has been named as one of the biggest offenders. It hasn't even made a submission, instead just pointing at the submission made by the Australian Information Industry Association (PDF) and saying that it agrees with it.
Federal Member for Chifley Ed Husic took the opportunity to slam Adobe for price gouging Australians while geo-blocking them from cheaper software prices.
The AIIA's chief Suzanne Campbell labelled a report by CHOICE saying that Australian's pay 50 per cent more for their tech than US counterparts as "fallacious", adding that Australia's consumer warranty policies drive prices sky-high.
Other companies and industry groups went before the public hearing today, including the Australian Retailers Association, the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA and the Australian Publishers Association, all of whom blamed a combination of high taxes, warranty requirements and the cost of doing business in Australia for price discrepancies.
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