The newly announced Federal Parliamentary inquiry into the high cost of IT in Australia would finally help business and consumers have their say on an issue important to them, according to Federal MP for Chifley Ed Husic.
Speaking today on the release of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, Mr Husic said consumer concerns about IT costs needed to be taken seriously by major multinational firms operating in Australia.
“For too long, businesses and consumers have asked: why does it sometimes cost up to 80 per cent more to simply download software in Australia compared to overseas.
“The problem’s been IT vendors have seemed unwilling to explain why software and hardware costs more in Australia.
“This Inquiry gives an opportunity for businesses and consumers to have their say on IT prices.
“But it also gives IT firms a chance to educate the public on the factors they take into account when shaping their pricing approach.”
Considering the value of the internet and modern broadband networks to the economy and community, Mr Husic explained the timing of the Inquiry is critical.
“In this day and age, businesses large and small, government, households all spend a great deal on IT software and hardware – technology’s become a big part of our lives.
“No one doubts that IT firms should be able to recover legitimate costs but the Australian consumer shouldn’t shoulder an unfair share of the pricing load.
“With the Federal Government investing about $2b in IT procurement, there’s a definite need to ensure we get value for money in this spend.”
Mr Husic also welcomed the breadth of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
“This Inquiry will look into the impact on a wide range of consumers – examining the cost of IT systems for business through to the cost of music and game downloads.
“This just reflects the simple fact that with technology weaving its way into our lives in so many ways, people from all walks of life should have their say on this issue.
“I particularly hope that small businesses and young people take the chance to make a submission and have their concerns heard,” Mr Husic said.
Attached is the IT Pricing Inquiry Terms of reference.
The terms of reference for the inquiry are as follows:
“Noting the estimated value of the Internet to the Australian economy, and the importance of competitively priced IT hardware and software being made available to business, government and the community, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications is asked to inquire:
(a) Whether a difference in prices exists between IT hardware and software products, including computer games and consoles, e-books and music and videos sold in Australia over the internet of in retail outlets as compared to markets in the US, UK and economics in the Asia-Pacific;
(b) Establish what those differences are;
(c) Determine why those differences exist;
(d) Establish what the impacts of these differences might be on Australian businesses, governments and households; and
(e) Determine what actions might be taken to help address any differences that operate to the disadvantage to Australian consumers.”
The Committee will accept submissions addressing one of more of the points listed in the terms of reference until Friday, 6 July 2012. Further details about how to make a submission can be obtained from the Committee’s website at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/ic.