Sections

IT pricing inquiry condemns Australia Tax

Monday, 29th July 2013 05:04 GMT By Brenna Hillier

A House of Representatives inquiry into IT pricing has found that Australians pay a higher price for technology, including games software, which is not justified by import and other local costs.

In a press release, the House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee said that Australians pay higher prices for IT products than international customers do.

“The committee found that big IT companies and copyright holders charge Australians, on average, an extra 50 per cent, a practice consumers call the ‘Australia Tax’”, committee chair Nick Champion MP said.

“While companies should remain free to set their own prices, the committee took the view that there are a number of ways in which Australia can act to increase competition in IT markets, which should reduce prices over time.”

In its full report, the committee made several broad recommendations, chief amongst which are:

  • a consumer education campaign, to help consumers find cheaper goods online
  • reforms to the Competition and Consumer Act and the Copyright Act to remove barriers to competition, foster innovation, and ensure consumer rights are not lost in
    the transition to digital content
  • action to reduce the impact of high prices on Australia’s most vulnerable social groups – the disabled, students, and low-income Australians

However, there are a few specific recommendations which are of particular interest to gamers – the removal of a ban on parallel or “grey” importing, and the potential removal of legal enforcement of geoblocking; this last would allow Australians access to international pricing on digital distribution like Steam and GOG.com. The Committe said that should no other option be found, a blanket ban on geoblocking may be the only resort.

On top of that, the Committee recommended the Government consider a “right of resale” system on digital goods – something that has recently been gaining traction in Germany.

Thanks, MCV Pacific.

Breaking news

5 Comments

Sign in to post a comment.

  1. xXNapsterManXx

    EB Games are the main ones behind overpricing games they will charge 100$ – 120$ for a next gen game but other retailers will charge a better 80$ – 90$ dollars I do buy my games at EB’s but I price compare to JB HIFI all the time, as for the online part steam do charge way over US prices on digital products that’s why I just buy on sale games on steam.

    When it comes to IT products in Australia I think it might even be worse my ArmA community has a server hosted in the US for 60$ a month but to get an equal quality server in Australia costs 200$ at least mainly due to the bandwidth costs which leads into the next part Tellicom.

    In Australia internet plans are terrible the main ISP is Telstra they own most of the infrastructure and have left the infrastructure in the stone age while charging other ISP’s heavy line rental, I have an OK internet connection for Australia but a terrible connection compared to the US right now the government is overhauling the internet infrastructure by replacing copper wire and the like with Fibre optic this is a bright light for Australian internet we just have to hope they don’t “hand the keys to the city” so to speak over to Telstra or another private ISP.

    I am by no means an expert on any of the things I just spoke of so there may be some wrong facts in there but that is how things are to my understanding, feel free to correct.

    #1 9 months ago
  2. NocturnalB

    Used to be in a relationship with an Aussie for a long time, lived there for awhile. The way the gamers there get shafted on pricing is insane to me. I used to buy my almost-brother-in-law games from back here in the US simply because of how much cheaper it was. Yeah there was sometimes the issue of region locks, but not always, we always did our homework.

    I agree though, something needs to be done, I may not be fond of Aussies now (You folks can blame my ex for that :P) but Aussie gamers are getting screwed worse than any other land of gamers I’ve encountered.

    #2 9 months ago
  3. xXNapsterManXx

    @2 games aren’t so bad if you import them from UK or price compare to the better retailers but I hear Brazil gets shafted just as bad as Aussies but I think with how long the USD and AUD were at level value it feels worse when your seeing the overpricing.

    #3 9 months ago
  4. maxroy

    This sort of behavior really ticked me off during the steam sale. When any Square Enix, Bethesda, 2K or Activision game went on sale they were nearly double of what the US were paying for due to the regional pricing.

    But the thing I couldn’t wrap my head around was the fact that our transactions are still made in USD. So on top of paying nearly double the price we also had to make up for the weakness of the AUD (1$ AUD = 0.90c US).

    #4 9 months ago
  5. Christopher Jack

    Yeah, some publishers on Steam are quite lazy & are still charging over double what the USA & Europe are charged. Just view this http://www.steamprices.com/au/topripoffs
    Here’s an example: CoD:MW2- $89AUD, $19USD.

    #5 9 months ago