Australian Government To Force Apple, Microsoft To Front Up Australia Tax Inquiry

The guns had fallen silent over the last few months on the Government's IT Pricing Inquiry into the so-called "Australia Tax", but fire resumed today when the generals behind the campaign decided to bring out the heavy artillery and subpoena tech companies like Apple and Microsoft. This means war.

The committee issued three legal summonses to appear before the inquiry today to three repeat offenders: Microsoft, Apple and Adobe. The trio will appear before the House Committee on 22 March at 9:30am to answer concerns raised by Choice and the ACMA and the committee itself over the so-called Australia Tax on goods sold locally.

Federal Member for Chifley and the sharp end of the stick when it comes to the IT Pricing campaign, Ed Husic, told us today that he's disappointed it had to come to this.

"This is an important move -- but one we shouldn’t have to take. These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches. In what’s probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being called by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the US," Husic said today.

"Adobe, Apple and Microsoft are just a few firms that have continually defied the public’s call for answers and refused to appear before the IT Pricing Inquiry," he added.

These legal notices will force the three companies who have continually dodged the Government's questions to appear before the committee. If they don't appear, the trio will face legal consequences.

It's unsure if other firms will be summoned to appear before the inquiry.



    More money wasted.. Nothing will change, sadly. :-(

      So you're in the camp that thinks the best thing to do is to just lie back and open our legs.

    there will be a big inquiry where they will hold a post inquiry into the inquiry to inquire if the inquiry inquired the relevant inquires then the opposition will say it's a waste of time and they will want to launch an inquiry and then due to inflation, the global economic downturn, increased material costs and the skyrocketing cost of inquiries IT prices will rise 25% and the government will hold it's head high knowing it did it's best.

    Looks like they are taking this a little more seriously than I first thought... Hopefully we may be able to finally get some answers as to why they are doing this

      Why? To make more money. They're in the business of making money.

        That's no excuse for inflating the price of a product so much that it would be cheaper to pay someone to fly to the USA and back TWICE to buy the product there on one of the trips than to buy it here! (Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN (New Subscription) has a monetary price difference of $8,665.29 between Australia and the US. See more at )

        Last edited 11/02/13 1:34 pm

      They do it because companies have been getting away with price gouging imported goods since goods have been imported, but now it's impossible to disguise the ridiculous difference in price between countries.

      Their business plan is still so reliant on the profit that's made from this price gouging, that they'll make any excuse for it: the 'weak' AU dollar, shipping costs, local taxes, etc, and try to get away with it as long as they can.

    agreed. But at the same time i don't think Microsoft or Apple are doing anything wrong, you can't expect the same prices on Australian Soil when our minimum wage is so damn high compared to our American counter parts. Not to mention the crazy open to interpretation Australian Goods laws about warranty claims and service etc.. . Also the Australian 10% GST adds to that figure.

      I thought the main target was digital goods that aren't subject to the things you listed. If customer A and Customer B are getting the same file from the same server then why should customer B get charged more?

      Apple's probably golden as far as this inquiry goes. Their prices are largely set based on US prices, calculated according to the exchange rate at the time the prices are set, plus tax. (Whether those prices were reasonable in the first place is another matter.) It's the software companies that will have harder questions to answer.

        How about for music, video and app purchases?

          Set by the rights holders, not Apple. Apple just takes a cut.

      If it were as simple as that.. you'd think they (the companies) would have answered the requests in the first couple of instances.. why has it come to this where they are being summonsed if it's as simply as you put it, phobo? Because it's not.. there is something questionable going on and the people who do matter are sick of it and are calling the bluff.

      our minimum wages are high

      but theyre not double of 150% higher overall

        They didn't show up before because they didn't have to. Honestly they know this is no real threat to them. They can do what they want its their business this is a different market. We already know American prices have no GST involved and have lower wages / less warranty laws to add to cost but theres also much less taxes (in the form of loopholes) . Im not defending these companies but i just think alot of Australians are so damn spoilt.

        I honestly don't mind paying slightly extra (which lets face it unless its adobe products its not much extra) - take into account that our healthcare is soo much cheaper and better. You can't win everything. If you seriously think that this has even the slightest chance of working you are dreaming. All this does is waste tax payer money.

          still worth a try
          otherwise theres still shipping forwarders

          and just because we have cheap healthcare and higher wages doesnt contribute to their prices.
          Only GST and perhaps warranty does, but adobe aside, the cost of electronics is still marked up beyond reasonable to cover these costs.

    if they have to start paying the full tax... prices will go up... more people will import their own stuff... full circle - government loses

      You seem to be confused. The government are complaining companies are charging us too much. They want prices to go down.

        maybe im mixed up with other articles ive read

    Adobe are expensive no matter which country you're in.. ridiculous pricing... then again, they usually are targeting commercial users not home users.

    The thing is though.. if none of these companies (including those who are not these 3 mentioned in the article) had nothing to hide.. nothing that would be questionable and simply justifiable reasoning.. they would have flicked off one of their expensive lawyers or PR people to nip things in the bud when they were first asked to explain.

    Last edited 11/02/13 12:22 pm

    Apple gear has been well priced in Aus while now.

    iMac 21.5-inch: 2.7GHz
    US: $1,299.00 (no Tax)
    Aus: $1,429.00 (with GST)
    Aus $1,299 (after $130 in GST removed)

      You obviously haven't seen the prices of 64GB Iphone 5 then.
      $399 US
      $999 AUD, Includes GST of approx. A$ 91.0

      Absolute ridiculous.

        US$399 including contract.
        AU$999 outright.

        The telcos are subsidising the cost of the handset in the US. The same thing happens here except you pay nothing upfront.

        The outright price of the 64gb iPhone 5 is US$849. Still cheaper than ours with tax added, but nowhere near as much as you were stating.

        OTOH - our politicians might also be this clueless y'know.

        Why do so many people struggle with the difference between outright pricing and contract pricing?

          tell me about it
          i was working retail selling apple stuff and lost count of how many bozos would walking in demanding an outright iphone 3g for $299 and then getting angry when i explained to them that theyre misinformed tools

    Great step forward for Australian consumer's, while it can be said that some companies treat their Australian customers just as well as their international customers but the stark truth is that most companies take advantage of the people due to the lack of competition on Australian shores, I sincerely hope once their done with the tech groups they move onto the automotive industry & realise some standing Australian tax's such as the 33 percent LCT "Luxury Car Tax" really 33% ?!?! i think 10% to 15% might be a little more appropriate this is just a blatant bloated ludacris discrimination against hard working people

    Ed Husic deserves applause. I made a submission to the original inquiry, but even I thought it was largely a symbolic exercise and would get us nowhere. So it's awesome to see the companies are actually being compelled to front up, and explain their sheer bloody arrogance !

    I used a friends student card to get Photoshop CS6 Extended for $160.....SUCK ADOBE !

    Nothing will come of this, the Australian government are a bunch of spineless cowards when it comes to dealings with the U.S.

    America says jump, the Australian government asks how high.

    Last edited 11/02/13 2:54 pm

      Thats was more the howard pro us days we're more in the gillard pro china days now.

        and we all know China now owns America or at least America owes China!

      If you're going to get it illegally, why not just steal it outright? Makes no sense.

    I can understand higher pricing to cover higher overheads. As has been mentioned previously, my austr

      Oops hit send too early.
      My Australian download comes from an international server. Local support is no longer local either. I called adobe today and got a call centre in India who's specialist advise was to tell me to check the adobe forums.

    kinda off topic, but Lamborghini Aventador

    380K US, 780K AUS

    difference is all taxes....

      yeh car companies need to be involved as well

      i think its unfair that the luxury car tax justification ends up hurting middle class working families.
      because the LCT doesnt do anything to impede the rich from buying, but it creates a invisible barrier of entry for everyone else. so its helping nobody

      maybe if they had a LCT with a tax rebate for people below a certain income. then that would even the odds. Why discriminate against centrelink beneficiaries from buying an aventador

      Last edited 12/02/13 11:58 am

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