Apple, Adobe called out in Australian parliament

Apple, Adobe called out in Australian parliament

Summary: IT pricing committee chair Nick Champion has called out Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft in parliament for their reluctance to appear before the committee.

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The chair of the Australian parliamentary committee investigating IT pricing in Australia, Nick Champion, has called out Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe in parliament for "stonewalling" the committee's investigation.

The IT pricing inquiry is currently looking into the reasons why it is perceived that Australians pay more for technology. Research by consumer group Choice estimated that Australians pay, on average, 56 percent more for IT products than customers overseas.

Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft were represented at a public hearing by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), but have subsequently refused to appear before the committee themselves.

In the House of Representatives this morning, Champion said that this is unacceptable.

"The committee does detect a deep reluctance and resistance on the part of these companies to discuss these issues publicly, or to publicly defend their business models and pricing structures," he said.

"The tactic employed by the industry seems to be to give either little or limited cooperation to the committee."

He said that other companies are frequently brought before committees to detail commercial practices, highlighting the 1999 retail sector inquiry, in which supermarket giant Woolworths appeared before the inquiry twice.

"If it is good enough for an Australian company like Woolworths to give public testimony, it should be good enough for Apple and others to appear and do the same," he said.

"It is not good enough for the industry to simply stonewall the inquiry, or, for that matter, ignore interested consumers who have a legitimate public interest in IT pricing."

Adobe had offered to make a public appearance before the committee, he said, but only if other IT companies would appear at the same time.

Champion said that the IT companies' reluctance to appear public has left the committee with the "invidious choice" of either compelling Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe to appear, or for the committee to report without evidence from these companies.

"It would be far better for companies to defend their business model and pricing structure in public before the committee," he said.

Deputy chair Paul Neville said that the companies are engaged in "obstruction, avoidance, and evasion," and that issuing the tech giants with a subpoena to appear would be the "ultimate sanction."

"We need to send out a signal that we are not going to accept [it], and we expect a better standard of conduct for the industry," he said.

The IT committee is next due to hold a public hearing on Wednesday, but the committee has not yet announced who will be providing evidence at this hearing.

Topics: Government, Apple, Government AU, Microsoft

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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5 comments
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  • Percieved higher cost?? The Greedy Country.

    Nothing percieved about it.

    Not sure that some of the products from these companies are "more expensive" here - would need to really check.
    BUT Australians regularly get shafted on goods. I shop mainly online to avoid (afford) this, but I want to support local business.
    Here is an example: 1 X Surly bike - made in Taiwan (as most bikes are). AU$1300 + from just about all the bike shops here. I bought it from an American shop for AU$600 including shipping. Watched it arrive via Hawaii, and got it 6 days later. This is common here, we want to support local business, but can't afford to do so. $69-90 for a ballistic HardCore iphone case, online or international - $45.

    Crux of the matter - IT or not, we need a shake-up. Coming from Europe I was amazed at the mark up.
    The Bike shops were not making huge profits on their bikes, they were just the last in a long chain of VERY greedy people.
    I play Double Bass - strings that cost $210 in U.S and Europe cost $450....yes....$450...here. My supplier - (Shop in Adelaide) - has just managed to cut out the "middle men" and is now dealing directly with the manufacturers. He now sells strings for a few dollars more than U.S and the rest of the world - fair enough, and he will make the same profit and probably save his business.

    Even on the app store, I checked the average price of Australian made apps (discounting the problem with v.low priced apps)....check the "average" prices yourself.

    But I digress...
    TheTropics
    • The point is ...

      ... this is software we are talking about. My professional tools cost 50% more than the very same thing, delivered electronically from the very same server, to a colleague in the US. Micro$oft and Adobe are gouging me for no justifiable reason.

      Physical goods like bikes are a whole different matter. Economies of scale, and higher operating costs in Australia, make a big difference.
      splatman
  • Communism

    It starts with minimum wage and slowly but surely manifests itself in every part of society. Add welfare and follow the inevitable cycle needed to pay for that and all of the incremental costs involved every time the results branch into even more costs, and you find the cost of doing business in a democratic communist society becomes exceedingly prohibitive.

    Abolish minimum wage, abolish welfare, and get back to basics. Oh and get rid of the drugs too, Indonesia is too slow topping off your druggies one at a time.
    5000
    • Relax!

      There, there, just sit down and have nice cup of tea.
      splatman
  • Ouch.

    Well, whilst I do not condone ANYTHING that you have said, I must concede that I am stuck for alternative solutions that would work for 20million + people in the current climate. Sadly we have sold this land to the highest bidder even our auifiers. Very sad.
    TheTropics