The Australian Computer Society has hit back at controversial remarks made this week by fellow lobby group the Australian Information Industry Association over technology pricing discrepancies.
In a submission to the Australian Government’s review into competition policy and market regulation, the AIIA justified what has come to be known as the ‘Australia tax’, which can see Australian consumers charged up to 50 percent more than their international counterparts for identical hardware and software products.
The AIIA – which represents the interests of major IT providers - described the practice as “typical and justifiable” under Australia’s unique market conditions, and said further regulation of pricing could see suppliers abandon the Australian market altogether.
But its claims have been publicly rejected by the ACS, a professional association serving the Australian IT industry.
“The idea that giving Australians greater and more equitable access to technology is somehow anti-competitive simply doesn’t hold water,” ACS CEO Alan Patterson said in a statement.
“If we continue to be gouged compared to our overseas counterparts, innovation will be hindered, digital literacy will fall and we will be left behind in the march to a digital future,” he said.
Patterson argued that keeping technology out of reach of lower income consumers could further hamper the development of much needed domestic IT skills.
“We need to see more computers in homes, especially with a greater focus on technology in primary and secondary education," he said.
“With funding for ICT education not at the levels needed to build the kind of digitally skilled workforce Australia needs, we need to look at removing barriers to technology access, and the so-called ‘Australia Tax’ is one of those barriers."