Thursday, May 28, 2015
Australian treasurer Joe Hockey has agreed to reconsider the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tampons and other hygiene products after being confronted about the issue on Q&A Monday night. Mr Hockey was responding to a question from student activist Subeta Vimalarajah.
“I started a petition against taxing the sanitary products under the GST. It now has over 86,000 signees and 11,000 submissions to the Better Tax Review. Mr Hockey, do you think that sanitary products are an essential health good for half the population?” she asked.
“Do I think sanitary products are essential? I think so,” Mr Hockey responded “Should the GST be taken off them? It probably should, yes. The answer is yes.”
He said that he will raise the issue with the next meeting of the state treasurers in July.
“I understand there’s long been a push to take the GST off goods, which are one way or another regarded as health products,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. “It’s certainly not something that this Government has a plan to do.”
He said he interpreted Joe Hockey’s remarks as meaning it was a matter for the states.
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said the matter deserved serious consideration.
“Why did it take till Mr Hockey was asked a question on live TV for him to acknowledge this was an issue?” he asked.
“I understand the concerns with taxing sanitary products — concerns that go back to the introduction of the GST by the Coalition.
“These are in effect health products and aren’t simply a matter of choice for women.”
The GST was introduced in Australia in 2000. The then Prime Minister John Howard said the tax on tampons was not a woman’s issue.
“I mean, of course if you look at tampons in isolation – just as you look at something else in isolation – you can mount an argument to take the tax off it,” Mr Howard said at the time.
“I could mount an argument to take the tax off children’s clothes. I could mount an argument to take the tax off old people’s clothes, I could mount an argument for a whole lot of things. But we’ve had that argument and if you start doing that, you will have no GST in the end, and the whole system will begin to unravel.”