A parliamentary committee will ask to subpoena documents from Apple, Microsoft and Adobe.

A parliamentary committee will be asked to subpoena documents from Apple, Microsoft and Adobe. Photo: Glenn Hunt

TECHNOLOGY giants Apple, Microsoft and Adobe could be forced to hand over internal documents to a federal parliamentary inquiry after refusing to appear at hearings this week.

As hearings into the pricing of IT software and hardware resume in Canberra today, committee member and Labor MP Ed Husic ramped up his attack on the computer companies, saying they had ''treated the Parliament with contempt''.

He said he would ask the committee to subpoena documents exchanged between the three companies and the Australian Information Industry Association, which has appeared before the inquiry on their behalf. ''It will certainly include emails and any information that was exchanged,'' Mr Husic said.

''Given the failure to co-operate, and since the major players are hiding behind their own industry association, I think we do need to see the documents exchanged between [the association], Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and whoever helped prepare the [association's] submission to the IT inquiry.''

Consumer group Choice told earlier hearings that Australians paid more than 50 per cent above US prices for music downloads, games computer hardware and other products.

Committee chairman Nick Champion said members were frustrated at the companies' refusal to appear at hearings. He said the industry association declined to answer company-specific questions.

The committee has twice written to the companies asking them to appear. Mr Husic said he would argue the companies should also be compelled to appear.

Mr Champion said he did not want to pre-empt the committee's position, but added: ''Obviously it's an issue of concern, we want to be able to gather the maximum amount of evidence when we're examining this issue.''

The Department of the House of Representatives confirmed that the committee would have the power to summons documents and witnesses and that disobeying any summons could result in penalties.

Microsoft and Adobe provided submissions to the inquiry. Apple demanded that its submission be kept confidential. Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and the industry association declined to comment.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy did not respond to questions.