Apple, Microsoft given Aust IT pricing inquiry ultimatum

An Australian parliamentary committee has formally written to Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe to compel them to appear before the committee investigating IT pricing disparity in Australia.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The parliamentary committee overseeing the inquiry into the so-called "Australia tax" for IT products with higher prices in Australia has written to reluctant participants Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe with an ultimatum seeking to compel them to give evidence.

The three companies have provided written evidence for the committee, and Apple has been given a closed-door briefing, but Labor MP Ed Husic, who is spearheading the inquiry, said that the companies would under normal circumstances front up to the public hearings to take questions from members of parliament. He said that the committee has written to the companies several times before, with no luck.

"There's a lot more questions you want to ask to flesh out those submissions, but what these guys have said is, 'no, we've given you enough,'" he told ZDNet.

The committee is set to meet on Friday, and last week it sent letters to Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe, stating that if the companies do not agree to appear, then the committee has the power to compel them to appear.

"We've basically written back saying it is not enough; we need more information and we do have the power in the committee to summon companies to appear. It's a none-too-subtle way of saying, 'can you just turn up and things will be a lot easier,'" he said.

Husic said that if the committee does not hear back, then it is unlikely that the report to parliament will be very flattering for the companies that have refused to give evidence.

"There's a belief that these companies are turning their nose up to the parliamentary process, and a number of us [on the committee] feel that it is unsatisfactory," he said.

Future hearings will be scheduled around the remaining sitting periods for parliament. Husic said there is no formal date set for when the committee has to report back to parliament with recommendations.

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