Tampon tax removal a step closer

The Greens celebrate the Senate victory. Image: Australian Greens
The Greens celebrate the Senate victory. Image: Australian Greens

A Greens bill to remove the GST on tampons has passed the Senate – but is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives

More than 125,000 people signed Greens petitions to remove the tax on tampons, according to the Greens, who gathered outside Parliament House in Canberra on Monday to urge the Senate to pass the Bill.

With the support of Labor and crossbench members, the bill to remove GST from sanitary products passed the Senate without a formal vote, a move praised by Senator Janet Rice, the Australian Greens’ spokesperson for women.

“This is a huge step closer to axing this unfair tax on sanitary products,” said Senator Rice.

“The pressure is now well and truly on the Prime Minister to show some leadership and support the Greens bill to axe the tampon tax, and pass it through the House of Representatives.

“If the Prime Minister has the will and actually listens to the public who want this fixed, we could axe the tampon tax this week.

“Just like we did with marriage equality, the Greens will continue to put pressure on the Prime Minister until the tampon tax is axed. The Prime Minister needs to address this issue now.”

It’s unlikely that the bill will make it through the House of Representatives as the Coalition Government does not support it.

Labor has vowed to work to remove the GST on sanitary items, with shadow minister for health and Medicare Catherine King also calling on the Coalition to support the Bill.

“Malcolm Turnbull reckons the tax system is gender neutral, but tampons are taxed, while Viagra isn’t,” she said.

“Scrapping the tampon tax will make sanitary products more affordable, and it will be an important step forward in gender equity.

“The tampon tax is a tax on women. Australian women spend around $300 million on sanitary products – tampons and pads – each year.

“Currently, every single one of these products is hit with the 10 per cent GST – around $30 million a year in tax – because they are not considered necessities.

“At the same time, products such as incontinence pads, sunscreen and nicotine patches are exempt from the tax.”

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has also supported the move, saying in a statement that he has “helped drag the Australian Parliament into the 21st century”.

“Legislation in the Australian Parliament in the past may have been made by blokes for blokes but those days have long gone,” he said.

“It’s about time taxation policies caught up with contemporary public expectations and I will now be looking at other discriminatory GST applications.”

At the time of writing Health Minister Greg Hunt, who has the ability to remove the tax – though states would still need to back the change – has not commented on the Bill’s passage through the Senate.

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