Labor MP Ed Husic told ZDNet that summonsing Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft to appear before the parliamentary inquiry into price disparity of IT products between Australia and other countries is a power that the parliament has only used three times before — and getting Adobe to drop its prices is just the beginning.
Last week, the parliamentary committee investigating IT pricing disparity formally summonsed Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft to appear before the committee in March. The tech giants had previously refused to speak in a public hearing about why prices for their products in Australia are higher than in other countries, like the United States.
Husic, who sits on the committee and has spearheaded a lot of the work behind the investigation, said that the summonsing was required for the committee to give a full and complete report.
"We had a situation where we felt we couldn't feel entirely confident we could bring down a thorough report ... without some of the big players getting involved," he said.
The Labor MP said that a committee summonsing organisations or people to appear before them is something that has rarely been used in Australia.
"Based on some of the research [I've done], the only times there have been summons have been in 1963, 1982, and 2000," he said. "So three instances, now this makes four, that a committee has had to issue formal summons in an attempt to get evidence as part of doing a report."
Husic said that the companies should see the hearing as a chance to get their side of the story out.
"This is as much of an opportunity for the companies to educate in the factors they have to deal with as much as it is for us to get the facts to do a proper report in something people do want to see movement on," he said.
Shortly after being summonsed, Adobe lowered the subscription price for its Creative Cloud product. However, when questioned, the global CEO refused to say whether the company would drop the price of any of its other products.
Husic welcomed the drop, but said that the company needs to address its other products that are still more expensive in Australia.
"Full marks to them, but this is only the initial step. As consumers are rightly pointing out, [the price drop] is not for the stand-alone products; this is restricted to the cloud at the moment," he said.
"They do have a long way to go. Adobe is one of the companies I have a lot of people writing and contacting me about their pricing structure."
The best outcome for the inquiry is to address what companies are charging versus what people are willing to pay, Husic said.
"For so long, the sector has priced on what the market is going to bear, and the market is saying we don't want to bear this anymore."