Will Any Of The IT Pricing Inquiry Recommendations Ever Happen?

Last July, the government IT Pricing Inquiry offered up a series of recommendations on how the very evident price disparities for technology services and products in Australia compared to other countries might be addressed. Is there any chance any of those recommendations might ever be implemented? The consensus answer, even from those in favour of the changes, seems to be "no".

Money picture from Shutterstock

I raised the issue with shadow communications minister Jason Clare earlier this week. He pointed out that even though the whole committee -- which had members from all sides of politics -- endorsed the recommendations, that doesn't mean anything will occur.

"Parliamentary procedures place no obligation on the Government to respond to the report," he said. "In cases where Government has responded to enquiries by this Committee the response has been tabled approximately six months after the Committee reported." In other words: even allowing for the election break, if something was going to happen it should have happened by now.

"Labor continues to be concerned about the price discrimination being shown against Australian consumers for IT products and services and urges the Government to respond to this important report," Clare said. But the direction being pursued by the current Coalition government makes that seem unlikely. Far from exploring ideas such as removing geoblocking, it has raised controversial proposals to make ISPs enforce copyright laws through a "three strikes" system.

Labor MP Ed Husic, who was a key participant in the inquiry, doesn't see much hope for change for that reason. Speaking on a panel about the inquiry in Canberra last week, he noted that the government seemed much keener to support overseas content creators than to pursue either the recommendations of the inquiry or the proposal from the Australian Law Reform Commission to add a fair use proposal to copyright law. "The recommendations are going to be facing an uphill battle. It looks like the shutters are pretty much being drawn down."

I've consistently argued that the chances of the inquiry ever making a difference were slim, even if a change of government hadn't happened soon after their release. If anyone is still hoping that we might see any of those changes happen, I'd suggest it's time to give up and consider a new strategy. This ship has well and truly sailed.

Update: Ed Husic has responded further below, and he makes a good point about what might happen next in terms of strategy:

we have seen vendors respond because the focus of all that activity was to help send a clear signal that this market wasn't prepared to bear the prices extended to us. Longer term, the big focus has to be finding competitive avenues to help boost choice for consumers and we should not turn away from that.


Comments

    Why do we still bother with committees when all they are able to do is make recommendations which, if not in line with what the government wants, are just ignored?

    It's an insane waste of money!

      And this surprise you how? Its the government, its what they do!
      They get our tax dollars, they spend it unwisely, achieve nothing, and then at budget time bring in more taxes so they can achieve less then they did last year.
      It's the circle of life!

      We should set up a committee to investigate.

        Good idea @henry. You head it up, I'll chair the meetings and @spankymk can, you know, do some filing or maybe lean against something.

    Gee, Kidman - if I'm ever after a resident pessimist I know who to call!
    Just because I have a lack of faith in the Coalition's willingness to stand up for SMEs and consumers does not mean that we walk away from this important issue - if anything it makes me thing we need to be even more insistent on seeing reform in this area.
    During the inquiry process and throughout the time I have pressed this matter, we have seen vendors respond because the focus of all that activity was to help send a clear signal that this market wasn't prepared to bear the prices extended to us.
    Longer term, the big focus has to be finding competitive avenues to help boost choice for consumers and we should not turn away from that. Your serve, Angus ;)

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