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The IT pricing inquiry one year on: Aussies still paying more

It's been 12 months since the parliamentary inquiry into the so-called 'Australia Tax' delivered its findings -- but has anything changed?

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You'll pay more for "The New Classic" on the Aussie iTunes than the US. Virgin EMI record

Exactly one year ago, the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications Inquiry delivered its report on the pricing of IT goods and services in Australia.

Titled "At What Cost", the report was the result of 12 months of investigation, including the schadenfreude-inducing grilling of companies such as Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft in the House of Representatives.

The report found that Australians paid a significant amount more for both hardware and software, including a stunning 84 percent more for video games and 52 percent more for music. The committee noted that "the price differences for IT products cannot be explained by the cost of doing business in Australia" and even recommended the removal of geo-blocking restrictions to allow Australians access to the lower priced options.

Sadly, according to consumer watchdog Choice, one year on it's still pretty (music) business as usual. Choice linked the topic back to piracy, noting that the Federal Government's Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper that was recently leaked "sidestepped" the issue of the "Australia Tax".

In a media statement, Choice Campaigns Manager Erin Turner said: "If the Government is serious about addressing piracy, it needs to address the fundamental issues: that Australians often find it hard to gain access to content like movies and television, and when they do, they pay far too much compared to consumers in other countries."

Looking at a selection of contemporary music and movies -- focusing on Australian musician -- Choice found that Australians still pay far more for their products. For example, "1,000 Forms of Fear", the new album from Adelaide-born artist Sia, is 82 percent more expensive on the Australian iTunes store than the US -- AU$16.99 versus $8.50. Similarly, we'd pay AU$16.99 for "The New Classic" from Aussie Iggy Azalea, while those in the US would be charged $9.99, a 45 percent mark up.

Choice concludes that "poor access and high prices" are big drivers of piracy locally, something echoed by recent research into the availability of hit TV shows in Australia.

With the current Government seemingly unwilling to address the findings of the Inquiry, the leaked piracy copyright infringement documents seem to indicate that Australian ISPs will be left the responsibility of holding back the pirates, while Australians still pay more simply for being in Australia.