A report on the local pricing practises of multinational IT companies could be released by mid-September, according to The Australian Financial Review.
It follows public hearings in March during which the Australian bosses of Microsoft, Adobe and Apple were asked to explain why Australians pay so much more for IT products than people and businesses in other countries.
Having the three executives appear in person was seen as a major coup by the parliamentary committee, which was forced to eventually submit subpoenaes in response to the companies' persistent refusal to cooperate.
Once at the hearing, their responses were deemed largely inadequate with the main thrust of arguments centring around the fact they set prices according to what the local market can bear. The AFR story reported that questions issued to Apple following the hearing have so far been ignored by the company.
It's by no means the first time prices charged in Australia by big tech companies has come under scrutiny, with similar efforts dating back as far as the 90s.
However, with far greater general awareness of IT products amongst businesses as well as consumers it is hoped public opinion will help embolden the government to take more direct action to address what at times are significant, and seemingly unjustified price discrepancies. In some cases Australians can pay 30 percent more for IT products than their US counterparts.
Speaking to the AFR, chair of the IT price committee Nick Champion did not deny the report’s imminent release, with the paper reporting it would likely appear around mid-September, near the initial date set by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for this year's federal election. Recently returned Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is yet to confim a new date.
Champion's office did not respond to CRN's request for comment at the time of publication.
Prepartion of the report into IT pricing coincides with increased scrutiny of multinational IT companies' tax practises with Apple and Google identified as having among the most elaborate business structures for tax-minimisation.
As reported by CRN this morning, the matter is now the subject of a wide ranging OECD investigation.