The long-running campaign to remove the GST from women’s sanitary products in Australia will finally succeed with state and territory treasurers today backing a plan by the federal government to remove the 10% tax.
The change is expected to cost around $30 million annually, but removes what many saw as an unfair penalty on women when condoms and lubricants had always been exempt from GST. That loss of revenue will be covered by Morrison government plays to reform GST allocations, including $7.2 billion in additional funding to ensure no state is worse off.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg took his plan to scrap the tax to his state counterparts today and needed their support to make the change.
A range of sanitary products, including tampons and pads, will have the tax removed, although the full list has yet to be determined.
The move, under new Prime Minister and former treasurer Scott Morrison, comes three years after his predecessor Joe Hockey attempted to make the change but was blocked by former leader Tony Abbott who described it as a “politically correct” exception.
Labor and the Greens have been campaigning on the issue along with women’s groups.
Greens Senator Janet Rice, who in June successfully introduced a Senate motion to remove the tax, said today’s decision was “a win for people-powered campaigns” after 18 years.
“This unfair tax on sanitary products should never have existed in the first place, especially when other items like condoms and Viagra were not taxed,” she said.
“A huge thanks to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have campaigned, protested, signed petitions and contacted their representatives in parliament over so many years.”
The Coalition voted against that bill, but after Morrison called it “anomaly” earlier this year and pledged to change it, the Coalition’s position on the issue changed in August after he became leader.
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer said it was “the right outcome” after “a fairly tortured history” of attempts to remove the tax.
The move comes ahead of Britain’s plan to remove its tax on female sanitary products by 2022.
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