Labor MP claims Aussie tech tax harming international competitiveness


In a speech on a report about the potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN), Labor MP Ed Husic has hit out at overseas technology firms offering products for much higher prices in Australia, saying it’s hampering Australian businesses ability to compete on the world stage.

And in yet another sign that Husic isn’t backing down on the issue, this morning he confirmed via Twitter that he has now made a submission to David Bradbury, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, asking for a formal investigation into the Australian price hikes made by some companies.

Previously Husic has said he would welcome an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into the issue, but so far no formal moves have been made about such an investigation.

Since the start of this year, Husic has been attempting to get answers from technology giants including Apple about why they feel it’s appropriate to rise prices significantly above those found in America — leading to the so-called tech tax — for Australians.

“I’ve been vocal about the price differentials that exist for Australian consumers of hardware and software – and how they have been seriously disadvantaged compared to consumers in the US and UK, who get access to these products sometimes at 80 per cent less cost,” Husic said in a speech yesterday to the Infrastructure and Communications Committee.

Husic pointed to a recent study commissioned by the Australian subsidiary of search giant Google that found households are gaining up to $53 billion in benefits by using services over the Internet such as online banking and paying bills.

He said that despite this, he feels that the tech tax is making it more difficult for businesses to compete on an international scale, where other countries have access to the same software and services for significantly cheaper prices.

“I feel strongly that IT pricing is an anchor on business and households, and it’s holding back export focused businesses – especially small businesses – that are competing with counterparts in other countries that are getting access to software and hardware at prices that are seriously lower than what is charged here,” Husic said, before commenting that “some small businesses” have contacted him “fuming” over software that costs up to $10,000 more in Australia than overseas.

“We do need to major firms like Microsoft, Apple, Lenovo or Adobe to tell us why they charge Australian consumers in a way that they would never dream of in their home markets. I’m looking forward to seeing further progress on this matter in the coming weeks.”

Apple, one of the key companies being pursued by Husic for its local price hikes, has so far refused to publicly comment on the issue.

Microsoft Australia meanwhile told Delimiter last month that it isn’t responsible for local pricing of products, with the market ultimately responsible for the final price of its products.

Image credit: Keith Syvinski, royalty free


  1. Well – if it’s the local channels setting the price – maybe the ACCC should step in and make them declare their margin on the vendor’s MSRP. The consumer can then make an education decision as to whether the margin is providing the “value for money” service they get from the reseller.

    I think with that level of transparency – Microsoft, Adobe etc will be hard pressed to explain differences in MSRP between Australia and the US.

    Although some other economy’s have the opposite “problem” – in high piracy/low income countries some vendors price low just to grab any income and stem losses to piracy. I remember buying the Indian version of CiscoPress books (when dead tree books were the only option) – they had low quality paper and binding but otherwise identical in content.

    • A lot of the products we are talking about have a monopoly, or de-facto monopoly, on a particular sector. It is therefore unlikely that a local product could be produced to de-throne them.

      Although, with the continued push for open standards in documents someone may be able to develop a productivity suite to compute with Microsoft Office, but it may take years before such a product comes out of the woodwork, given that Microsoft Office is considered the standard but a lot of companies and retraining staff would make it less cost effective, even if the product could undercut Microsoft Office.

      Likewise the same problem exists for Adobe Photoshop.

  2. When trying to haggle retailers and sales staff are the first to complain that suppliers give them no margins but gouge on so many other products and act insulted when you tell them of prices at other stores.

    They insult the consumers and think people should haggle and come from the point of view that customers are stupid and a lot of them will pay what we tell them.

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