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Why do Australians pay more for IT software and hardware than consumers overseas?

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Will we ever know the truth about why Aussies pay more for stuff?

This is one of the questions that music industry bosses will be asked tomorrow in Canberra, where a parliamentary Standing Committee will quiz the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) on why Aussies pay so much more for music compared to our international counterparts.

ARIA CEO Dan Rosen and one other individual from ARIA will attend tomorrow’s public hearing of the Standing Committee Infrastructure and Communications, set up to investigate price gouging in IT software, like Microsoft Windows, and electronics, including tablets and smartphones in Australia.

A spokesperson for the Committee said he was not aware of what other questions or topics would be under discussion, saying it is a matter for the committee on the day to decide how the hearing will proceed.

However, the hearing usually takes the format of an opening statement by the attendees and then an open Q& A session. ARIA, who represented over 100 music labels here in Oz, including Universal Music, EMI and Phantom Records, are the latest industry group to be party to the hearings investigating IT pricing here.

Take Pink’s album Truth About Love: Deluxe Edition, which costs A$21.99, while the same album sells for around $11.99 in the US. Or even Radiohead’s Best Of album which costs A$19.99 here, while its sells for as low as $12.99 stateside. Ouch.

Companies like Microsoft blame the cost of doing business in Australia, including high labour costs, rent shipping and transport which they insist is having an impact on the higher prices being charged

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

iTunes’ prices for digital music is far higher here than in the US, despite the fact there is zero transport costs involved, considering it is delivered digitally.

 

While ARIA has not made a formal submission to the inquiry, the Committee says it is “is interested in hearing the perspective from the recording industry – including the costs and other impacts on Australian artists of copyright infringement.”

Committee Chair, Mr Nick Champion MP, says the inquiry into IT price discrimination, set up in May last, “has generated a great deal of interest”, judging by submissions and mentions on social media like twitter.

But whether it will change anything is yet to be determined.

The hearing will be held in Committee Room 1R1 in Parliament House, from 11.30am (concluding at approximately 12.30pm).

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