Set for March 22, the public hearing will see the three technology giants appear before the federal parliamentary committee for the IT Pricing Inquiry that is being conducted by Australia’s House Committee on Infrastructure and Communications and if they fail to show up, they will be held in contempt of Parliament and may face huge fines and even jail time.

The inquiry, which started back in 2012, aims to find out why Australians are paying significantly more for the same hardware and software than consumers in other countries. Considering the example of a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad with Retina Display, Austrians are paying $AUD539 as compared to the consumers in the United States who only pay $US499 even though the exchange rate is $1AUD = $1.03US. Same holds true for different product from Microsoft and Adobe.

The usual excuse given by IT companies is that the higher prices in Australia are a consequence of local costs, but have failed to explain clearly about these ‘local costs’. Cupertino has another explanation to give as well – taxes. Questions have been raised demanding an explanation from Apple for the reason behind a mere $40 million in taxes even though it generated $AUD6 billion in revenue.