The Federal Government has introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that aims to remove parallel importing restrictions on software and books.
The Government, backed by an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report, intends to lift restrictions on the parallel importing of software under the assumption that it will lower prices in Australia.
A Government spokesman said it will take until at least June before the bill is voted on. He was confident the bill would be passed in the House of Representatives, but is less sure of the Government's potential in the Senate due to conflicting policies from the Opposition.
The Government argues consumers can buy any software or books over the Internet, whereas retailers are forced to buy the goods through "monopoly rights holders with lucrative arrangements in place for the distribution of the software".
When the bill was first announced, the Australian offices of global software vendors along with distributors and resellers voiced concerns that independent software dealers would be heavily undercut and software piracy would become even more rampant.
Criticism was also directed at the ACCC report, which was released back in March 1999. The Government spokesman said the research is still valid as it was based on a 10-year track of prices. "The restrictions, however, are simply outdated," he said.
PASSAGE to House of Reps
Feb 1999: ACA pushes for abolition of software importing restrictions.
June 2000: BSAA criticises proposed loosening of restrictions.
July 2000: Channel to face support woes in import law chaos.
Feb 2001: Australian software prices on par with those abroad.
April 2001: Channel slams parallel importation proposals.
June 2002: House of Representatives to vote on bill.