Apple Australia managing director Tony King has agreed to speak with Australian Member of Parliament (MP) Ed Husic about technology prices that are significantly higher in Australia than the rest of the world.
Technology prices in general are much higher in Australia, even when accounting for exchange rates. The Australian Dollar is much stronger than it was two years ago, and now is trading higher than parity with the US Dollar. The new MacBook Air is 15% more expensive in Australia, and some software, like Adobe's CS5.5 Design Premium, is nearly 75% more expensive when accounting for currency exchange.
According to Australian newspaper The Age, King agreed in March to speak with Parliament by July 16. That date came and went without a meeting between the MP and Apple. Angered by this snub, Husic spoke strongly against Apple on the floor of Parliament:
Apple refused to respond and I am staggered by their behaviour: they've snubbed consumer, media and parliamentary interest in this matter.
He continued, saying that price discrimination occurs even when products are downloaded electronically -- such as from the Mac or iOS App Stores. Apple reduced app store pricing last month for a number of international countries to account for changes in exchange rates
Apple has gotten in touch with MP Husic and are reportedly trying to set up a meeting between him and Tony King. Husic said that if companies refuse to be transparent with their pricing, he would ask Australia's pricing watchdog, the ACCC, to "take up the case for long-suffering consumers and carry out a formal inquiry into why these prices differ so wildly."
However, Apple's Australian prices include a 10% Goods and Services tax. In the US, sales tax varies state-to-state and is calculated later in the process than Australia. As a result, the prices aren't as far apart, at least on hardware, as MP Husic claims. Additionally, exchange rates are constantly fluctuating and rapidly changing retail prices as currency rates change simply isn't feasible.
The problem is real, but it seems Husic may be singling out Apple because they are a big, successful company.