Minister holds off on digital price probe

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 09:48 02/05/2012
Amy Adams
Fairfax NZ
EYES AND EARS: Communications Minister Amy Adams.
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Communications Minister Amy Adams says she plans to keep an eye on a parliamentary investigation ordered by her Australian counterpart Stephen Conroy into the high price of computer hardware, software and digital downloads in Australia, but she has no plans at present to order a similar inquiry here.

Australian Communications Minister Conroy said Australian businesses and households should have access to IT software and hardware that was "fairly priced relative to other jurisdictions".

The terms of what has become known in Australia as the "price gouging inquiry" have yet to be finalised, but it will be carried out by the House of Representatives' standing committee on infrastructure and communications, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The newspaper said the committee could look into the price of iTunes music and game downloads and electronic books.

A spokesman for Amy Adams said she would watch the Australian investigation and "go from there".

There have been periodic claims New Zealanders pay over the odds for some Apple products, downloads and popular software from the likes of Microsoft despite comparatively low rates of software piracy.

Adding insult to injury, many technology multinationals have an agency structure in New Zealand that allows them to channel profits on local sales to tax havens such as Ireland and avoid paying significant amounts of local tax.

Consumer groups said last year that Kiwis were paying up to 50 per cent more than American consumers for online-distributed files and software, such as films and iPhone apps. Consumer NZ spokesman Hadyn Green said then that New Zealanders were paying too much for digital products and Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said Kiwis  including New Zealand businesses  were being "taken for a ride".

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- The Dominion Post

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