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Tampon tax to go, with states and territories agreeing to remove GST from sanitary products

By Lucy Sweeney

Updated October 03, 2018 15:43:06

Josh Frydenberg says "common sense has prevailed" with tampon tax scrap. (Photo: Saskia Hampele)

Video: Josh Frydenberg says "common sense has prevailed" with tampon tax scrap. (Photo: Saskia Hampele) (ABC News)

Related Story: 'Taxing breastfeeding doesn't make sense': Tampons not the only 'sexist' GST rule

Related Story: States and territories throw support behind axing tampon tax

Related Story: 'Sexist' tampon tax to stay despite Senate saying GST should not apply to sanitary products

Map: Australia

After an 18-year campaign,the 10 per cent tax on tampons and pads will be removed after states and territories agreedto make sanitary products exempt from the GST.

Key points:

Public push to make sanitary products exempt started when GST was introduced in 2000

States and territories have agreed to the Federal Government's proposal to remove the tax, which will cost them about $30 million a year in GST revenue

Tampons, pads, menstrual cups, maternity pads and leak-proof underwear expected to be included in exemption list

Treasurers met this morning to discuss the matter and have unanimously agreed to pass the Federal Government's proposal, which will see the tax removed by January 1, 2019.

The GST on sanitary items has long been described as unfair because other health products including condoms and Viagra are exempt.

But both major parties recently changed their policies to also exempt menstrual products.

The items to be made exempt are expected to include tampons, pads, menstrual cups, maternity pads and leak-proof underwear, but the full list will be subject to public consultation.

Why a tampon tax is 'unfair'

australia First posted October 03

The lead organiser behind the Don't Tax My Period campaign explains why she is lobbying for change.

The move will cost the states $30 million a year but the Coalition argues the shortfall will be easily covered because they are already receiving more GST revenue than forecast.

After agreeing to the GST exemption for sanitary products, state and territory treasurers finished today's meeting by asking for a guarantee in legislation that none of them will be short-changed under the proposed overhaul of the GST carve-up.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it would take a few months for the Federal Government to consult with states and territories as well as the public about which products would come under the definition of "feminine hygiene" for the purposes of the GST change.

Campaigners welcome move to scrap 'sexist' tax

The GST on tampons and pads has been a hot political issue since the consumption tax was introduced in 2000.

At that time, a group calling itself the "menstrual avengers" dressed up in costumes to argue against the tax.

"Menstrual Avengers" pelt government ministers with tampons in February 2000.

Video: "Menstrual Avengers" pelt government ministers with tampons in February 2000. (ABC News)

One of those groups that joined the campaign to axe the tampon tax was Share the Dignity, a charity providing sanitary items for women experiencing homelessness and poverty that managed to gather more than 100,000 signatures on its petition earlier this year.

Founder Rochelle Courtenay said today's decision — and the entire debate around GST on sanitary products — was about more than just money.

"I don't think its even about the money. It's about equality," she said.

"Why are condoms, lubricants and nicotine patches all untaxed, yet female items that we don't have a choice in are taxed?

"It's a sexist tax. Today is really about equality."

Along with the public campaign to remove the GST from menstrual products, many have been pushing to make breastfeeding aids exempt from the goods and services tax.

Taxed to breastfeed

Taxed to breastfeed

Unlike other medical aids, breastfeeding equipment attracts GST and some mothers say they can't afford the devices they need to feed their babies.

But these products were not included in the Federal Government's proposal, meaning the GST will remain on breastfeeding aids like pumps and nipple shields.

Incontinence aids including pads and adult nappies required for continence issues are already exempt from the GST.

Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer said she was "delighted" the state and territory treasurers had agreed on "the right outcome".

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