Feeds

Australian Parliament issues summons to Apple, Microsoft, Adobe

IT Pricing inquiry bares its fangs, prepares to bite Apple over price gouging, tiny tax bill

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The IT Pricing Inquiry being conducted by Australia's House Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has issued summons to Apple, Microsoft and Adobe.

The inquiry kicked off in 2012 and is investigating why Australians pay more for hardware and software than those overseas.

At current exchange rate one Australian dollar buys $US1.03. Yet Australians often pay more in Australian dollars than Americans are charged in their currency.

An example of the discrepancy can be seen in the price of a 16GB WiFi iPad with Retina Display. In the USA the fondleslab costs $US499. In Australia it's $AUD539.

A year's worth of Office 365 Home Premium costs $AUD119 down under, but $US99.99 in the land of the free.

Multinational IT outfits have said Australians pay more because of local costs, but have never explained just what those costs are. Many use “transfer pricing” so their goods are legally sold in a nation other than Australia, even though their goods end up being used down under.

While the Inquiry has in the past expressed very keen interest in an appearance by three companies mentioned above, none has shown particular interest in doing so. Some have said they're happy to give evidence in private, but as is often the case with these things, the Inquiry is about being seen to be doing something as well as actually doing something.

Forcing the three to appear therefore means they'll have to explain their pricing practices in public. And they'll have to do so credibly, as the House of Representatives' powers mean “A person summoned to appear before a committee but who refuses to attend, or a witness who refuses to answer a question or produce a document, or who lies to or misleads a committee, may be punished for contempt by reprimand, fine or imprisonment.”

The Reg will do its utmost to cover the March 22 hearing.

News it will be forced to appear before the Inquiry is the second piece of bad news for Apple in Australia in recent days. MP Ed Husic, who heads the inquiry, last week (PDF) asked why Apple pays so little tax in Australia.

“Australia generated over $AUD6 billion in revenue here in Australia but paid only $40 million in tax,” he told Parliament last week. “People will rightly rush and point out that we tax profits, not revenue, so it might be wrong to needle that firm on this,” he added, before digging into Apple's numbers and finding the company “... apparently racked up, from what I understand, $5.5 billion in costs. How? They do not manufacture here. They have no factories here. I do not know what their R&D effort is here—I do not if they are claiming that this is driving their costs up. They have got a growing number of retail outlets, which I am happy about—they are creating jobs locally; that is great—but surely those outlets do not cost $5.5 billion to maintain.”

Husic also said Apple may have “a head office here, but you would not know it because they maintain a cloak of invisibility and their key management team dodge any scrutiny and refuse to even engage on public policy issues. Given the lack of work they do on that front, you would hardly say that it cost $6.6 billion to maintain a head office here and dodge that limelight.”

“Apple steadfastly refuses to engage with stakeholders,”he continued. “Ask anyone who has sought answers from them about their Australian operations and you will hear a common theme: they will not talk.”

Come March 22nd, that will have to change. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?