Australia tax inquiry opens submissions

The head of the parliamentary inquiry into the so-called "Australia tax" on hardware and software sold locally has today outlined the scope of its investigation in its terms of reference.

(Australian Coins and Notes Macro image by Martin Howard, CC BY 2.0)

The inquiry, announced last month by Senator Stephen Conroy, looks to tackle the price disparity between hardware and software sold in Australia and that sold internationally.

The Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, under the eye of committee chair Nick Champion, has today been asked to:

  • Investigate whether a difference in prices exists between IT hardware and software products, including computer games, consoles, ebooks, music and videos sold in Australia over the internet or in retail outlets, as compared to markets in the US, the UK and Asia Pacific

  • Establish what those differences are

  • Determine why those differences exist

  • Establish what the impacts of these differences might be on Australian businesses, governments and households

  • Determine what actions might be taken to help address any differences that operate to the disadvantage of Australian consumers.

Champion today said in a statement that Australians are often slugged more for technology. The inquiry will look at ways of limiting the hit on locals' wallets.

The inquiry was begun by federal MP for Chifley, Ed Husic, who has campaigned against IT giants charging extra to Australians for some time. Husic raised the issue in parliament last year, slamming vendors for their price-gouging tactics.

"When we're paying up to 80 per cent more for software, compared to US or UK customers, despite strengthened purchasing power that flows from a historically high Aussie dollar, you know something doesn't add up," Husic said last year.

At the announcement of the inquiry into the price disparity in April, some analysts remarked that vendors would be hard pressed to change their price-gouging ways.

The committee will take public submissions starting today until 6 July.


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gregory.opera posted a comment   

So what they're REALLY trying to say is that an investigation will be conducted to prove that we ARE paying considerably more than the rest of the world, then another review will be launched to decide what they should do about this...

At the conclusion of that review, someone in Australia Politics will dispute the findings and a third review will be conducted to determine the validity of the inital investigation, thus taking us back to square one!

I'm 30 years old and for as long as I've been alive, the Government and everybody else has been complaining about the so-called "Australia Tax" (although in their defense, the movement has picked up plenty of stream over the last few years, largely in part because of the Internet) and despite callings for changes every couple of years, nothing has in fact changed...

Oh there will be change, eventually, but it will be because the retailers, the Government and everyone inn between has been forced to do so by certain factors (such online shopping), not because they want to!

As much as I'd hate to admit it though, we may actually start to see some changes, though I think that it will probably be 5-10 years before those changes are implemented across the majority of the Australian industry...

The more people shop online, the faster those changes will be implemented.

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