Camera Accessories Maker SmallRig Sets Up Its Own Amazon Australia Online Store

With the side effects of the Australian Federal Government’s demand that foreign online retailers sign up to become government goos and services tax collection agents yet to become clear and obvious this soon after the scheme’s July 1 commencement date, Chinese camera accessories maker SmallRig has dodged the bullet by setting up a dedicated SmallRig store on Amazon Australia

smallrig_amazon_australia_screenshot_1024px
SmallRig now has a store at Amazon.com Australia.

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos responded to the Federal Government’s demand that Amazon UK and Amazon USA become unpaid tax collectors by refusing to sell Australian customers at all from those two sites from July 1, instead bouncing them to the controversial Amazon Australia website, often criticized for having too little stock and too high prices.

SmallRig’s Australian Amazon store does not appear to offer the vast selection found on SmallRig’s website nor its unique Co-design and Pre-order functions but it is at least, a start and seems to contain some of the more popular item categories for which SmallRig has become famous since its founding in 2007, cages, handles, quick release plates, clamps and more.

smallrig_amazon_australia_clamp_1024px
This item is on my wishlist and I may try out SmallRig’s Amazon Australia store by purchasing it and other items there soon.

I recommend that Australian readers make their purchases through the Amazon Australia SmallRig store to encourage SmallRig to add more of their products to it.

I have not yet made any foreign online purchases since July 1 from retailers that have refused to sign up to the Australian Government’s GST collection scheme, so have not put the new system to the test.

I hope, though that the Government is offering a fallback for purchases from those stores such as routing them through the Australian Customs service for GST collection on items where it has not been charged at point of sale.

Prior to July 1, the Australian Government only required 10% GST to be paid on items costing $AU 1,000.00 or greater.

Now all items purchased by Australian residents from overseas suppliers are required to have GST collected.

Links

Disaster Looming for Australian Moviemakers & Photographers Needing Supplies from Foreign Online Retailers & Manufacturers?

From July 1st 2018 the Australian Federal Government will require all online retailers and manufacturers retailing their own products online to become unpaid goods and services tax collectors for the Government, a move that could well prove disastrous for Australian creatives, especially Australian moviemakers and photographers whether enthusiasts or working professionally, many of whom are self-funded or poorly paid if paid at all and can hardly afford further hits to their savings or income. 

Australian treasurer and money church maven Scott Morrison has justified this requirement as somehow, presumably magically and mysteriously, encouraging foreign-based multinational corporations to pay their fair share of corporate tax in Australia despite the GST being levelled on purchases by consumers.

Until the 1st July 2018, the current GST collection regime will be in operation whereby Australian Customs, now the Australian Border Force agency of the Department of Home Affairs super-department run by Minister Peter Dutton,  will level 10% GST on imports over the value of $AU 1,000.00.

From July 1 onwards, it appears, retailers outside Australia will be required to collect 10% GST from their customers on purchase of goods and services whatever their value.

When the new GST collection regime was announced in 2017, the reasonable assumption was that the 10% tax would be applied and collected by the same Customs officers who have been successfully processing imports of over $AU 1,000.00 for some time.

That now appears not to be the case, and instead suppliers are being invited to apply to become tax-collecting agents of the Australian Government, with 320 or so currently signed up.

The revelation of May 31 2018 by Amazon.com that the company will refuse to supply direct to Australian customers from July 1 onwards, instead redirecting them to the understocked, overpriced Amazon Australia online store has kicked off a slew of articles in the Australian mainstream media, revealing there is more to last year’s GST announcement than meets the eye.

The soon-to-be former $AU 1,000.00 threshold was introduced due to the Australian Tax Office determining that collecting GST on that amount or less would be uneconomic.

Updated to the Consumer Price Index, that figure would now be $AU 1,600.00.

Rational economic thinking does not automatically influence governments to do the sensible thing and so it was believed that the Australian Government was willing to take the hit on a matter of ideology and instruct Customs officers to process imports of less than $AU 1,000.00 as well.

Today we have learned that the buck has been passed to online suppliers and manufacturers.

I have relied on importing goods of all sorts and values for use in my creative work since my art school days.

My prime source for that has been  the incredibly well-stocked B&H Photo Video superstore in New York City and it has served me well for several decades.

I buy some major items such as cameras and lenses locally when I can source what I need here, but we have nothing like B&H in Australia and never will.

I have purchased some rare specialist items from Amazon UK and Amazon US and more often third party sellers that use Amazon as a storefront but gave up several years ago on repeatedly discovering that many point blank refuse to sell to Australian customers due to the quality of Australia Post’s delivery service.

Their reason: Australia Post’s unreliability and carelessness in handling led to too many claims for replacements or reimbursements to purchasers.

Amazon.com’s application of its own shipping rules to self and third-party products can be inexplicable at best, often baffling third party sellers as well as customers.

Many was the time I have tried to buy several related items from a given third-party Amazon.com seller only to find that Amazon.com will sell me one but not the others, rendering the transaction pointless.

The third party sellers concerned turned out to be just as puzzled as I and could offer no solution.

As a result I refuse to use my Amazon.com affiliate account in the “Help support ‘Untitled'” section of these web pages, instead relying on the ever-reliable, ever-rational B&H.

I hope that B&H and other online retailers and manufacturers relied upon by self-funded, independent moviemakers and photographers like me will not adopt the Jeff Bezos Amazon “Let them eat cake” approach by refusing to become unpaid tax collectors for the Australian Government.

But the question remains, B&H and other foreign online retail giants aside, will smaller suppliers be able to set up the GST-collection mechanisms that are not a barrier to their larger brethren?

B&H and its competitors have the means and, I hope, the will to set up Australian GST collection departments, mechanisms and staff pools, but they certainly do not stock all the many and various specialist and custom items creatives like me buy direct from their designers and makers as our projects demand.

As so many readers of the articles below have stated, buying Australian is costly and in many cases simply not possible given the nature of Australian retailers, Australian importers and distributors, and Australian online suppliers.

If the Australian Government is planning on inconveniencing Australian creatives by making it difficult, costly or impossible to source the items we need to do our work, then it is about to do a sterling job of it.

I would hate to be forced by the Australian Government’s actions to do without the excellent products made by small foreign companies such as, for example, Breakthrough Photography, Seercam, SmallRig and many, many more.

It would cripple my work.

Little wonder so many Australian creatives have for so long left this country to live and work overseas.

I asked Henry Posner, Director of Corporate Communications at B&H, if they have signed up to the Australian Federal Government’s GST foreign tac collection agent scheme.

Mr Posner replied that…

As of this minute we do not plan to change how we handle transactions from Australian customers.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

PhotoCounter Australia: L&P in liquidation – with COMMENTARY

https://www.photocounter.com.au/2017/lp-in-liquidation/

“After 38 years serving professional photographers, it appears respected Sydney-based L&P Photographic Supplies is shutting its doors.

Insolvency website Insolvencynotices.com.au has announced that at a general meeting of members of L&P Photographics on August 2, ‘it was resolved that the Company be wound up and that Christopher John MacDonnell (Restructuring Solutions), be appointed liquidator’.

Industry sources have informed PhotoCounter that it has been known for some time that the business was in financial difficulties, but there was no particular business decision or direction which brought the liquidation on. ‘It’s been a slow, terrible death,’ observed one contact. …”

Commentary:

The liquidation of L&P Digital Photographic is a double tragedy, for current professional photography practice and for Australia’s photographic history.

The writing was on the wall when L&P’s landlord sold the building, photographer Max Dupain’s former studio, at 96 Reserve Road, Artarmon, in June 2017.

There appears to be little interest in preserving and learning from the history and achievements of Australian photography and photographers, and it would be a tragedy if the last traces of Max Dupain’s studio and darkroom disappear under the new ownership and tenancy of number 96 Reserve Road.

Too little attention and respect is paid to Australian pioneers and greats in the field of photography.

Harold Cazneaux’s home-based studio and darkroom fell into near-decrepitude under threat of demolition and it is unlikely it will receive heritage status and preserved as a museum, as should have been done long ago.

Great Australian photographers are more likely to be celebrated by the governments of other countries or the mayors of other cities.

The great German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton and his achievements have been memorialized by the Helmut Newton Foundation located in the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) along with those of his Australian wife the photographer June Newton aka Alice Springs.

It took decades for an Australian state gallery of museum to offer a show of any kind to the Newtons and there is no sign of the customary major career retrospectives or major collection of works much less a foundation ever appearing here in their own country.

The story is even sadder in connection with Anton Bruehl who, like the Newtons and countless numbers of other Australian photographers before and since, had little choice but to work overseas in order to build his brilliant career.

One of the greatest Australian photographers who made many contributions to the art and craft of photography, Anton Bruehl is not even memorialized with an entry in Wikipedia.

Australian photographers have long relied on foreign connections for their education, training, commissions, viable careers and supplies, and that does not make them any the less Australian.

I learned photography at long distance from a North American photographer working in the large format sheet film camera tradition and imported books, equipment and supplies direct from his company when I discovered I could not obtain what I needed here.

That early exposure to other ways of doing things, to a non-conformism rare in this country, led to other ways of doing things and to buying supplies from a New York-based photographic store the like of which we have never seen here, B&H Photo Video.

I would love there to be an Australian professional photography and video store where, as with B&H, one can see, try and then buy on the spot.

Alternatively, and even better, where one may borrow an item of equipment for a damned good tryout for several hours in return for one’s credit card details just in case, like the many stores in Tokyo recommended by globetrotting moviemaker and photographer colleagues.

Instead one must rely on reading reviews, watching videos, poring through specifications lists then ordering, unseen and untried, from online retailers.

I would gladly buy from Australian professional and non-professional online and bricks-and-mortar suppliers, if they had what I need in stock, on the shelf or in the backroom.

So many times I have walked into inner city or Artarmon suppliers only for an assistant to recommend that I place my order with B&H instead.

It is rare to see what what one needs on the shelves, much less to buy it. The few times I have been able to see and try led to purchases, often for a higher price than if I had ordered it online, due to the convenience of the item being right there right now.

The last time that magic combination – see, try then buy – occurred was at another now-defunct professional supplier, Foto Riesel, before it was sold then changed form into a bricks-and-mortar branch of the online retailer Digital Camera Warehouse.

Foto Riesel’s demise was the end of inner city-based well-qualified professional advice, a top quality digital printing service, a professional quality analog processing and printing lab, a brilliant secondhand equipment cabinet, and the fellowship of other photographers.

Photography and moviemaking here are subject to the loneliness of the long-distance photographer and it is only becoming lonelier.

Being a professional in either closely-related realm is lonelier again with L&P’s liquidation and I will miss Keith Gibbons’ long, rambling monologues during my rare visits to Artarmon.

I will never be able to make good on my hopes to eventually hire L&P’s small hire studio, Profoto lighting and Fujifilm GFX 50S camera to work on several coming documentary portrait series for this project, Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success.

A quick tour of the L&P studio revealed that Mr Dupain’s darkroom was to be turned into  a change and make-up room and it would have been fun to work in the same rooms as he once did.

My visits to Artarmon, once the natural home of photography and moviemaking, will now be even fewer than they have been in the past.

I cannot remember the last time I purchased anything from the remaining photography and video supplier there, Kayell Australia. Kayell represents a range of excellent brands whose products it can order in on request but so far I have not had need of any of them.

I am now wondering how the imminent arrival of Amazon and its huge warehouses out west will affect the professional photography and moviemaking supply scene in Australia.

Links: