There has been a fair bit of moaning over the past few years in Australia about how much Australians are buying online (especially from overseas) instead of in brick and mortar shops located in Australia. Billionaire owner of Harvey Norman, Gerry Harvey, has called for the GST (10% goods and service tax) to be levied on all online sales, in order to force/encourage people to buy local. Well, that won’t be enough.

Not 10 minutes ago I bought a writing tablet on eBay. I bought it from a store in America, and, including shipping, it is going to cost me less than 50 Australian dollars. There are no Australian shops carrying this new product (that I can find), and only two australian eBay sellers. What’s more, both Australian eBay sellers wanted more than double what I payed from the American seller.

I want to buy local. I think many people do. But unless Australian businesses start getting their hands on new gadgets, at comparable prices, even a 50% levy is not going to bring consumers back. It wouldn’t have brought me back.