Tampon tax will remain after Senate vote

In a blow for all the women out there who have to buy sanitary items like tampons and pads, the Senate has refused a request from the Greens to remove the GST from these products.

The Greens decided to mount a fight against the ‘tampon  tax’, which sees these and other feminine hygiene products taxed when some other medical necessities are not.

Even worse, the charge is labelled a ‘luxury tax’, with many women arguing getting a period each month is not a luxury.


Introduced by the Howard Government in 2000, the GST slapped a 10 per cent levy on all goods and services.  Sanitary items like Tampons and pads were classified by the then Health Minister as ‘personal hygiene products’  rather than health goods, so were not exempt.

On Monday The Australian reported that the Senate had voted down the Greens attempt to remove the GST from tampon and sanitary pad sales 33 votes to 15.

The upper house has been debating laws allowing GST to be collected on imported goods worth less than $1000, raising $300 million over three years.

Greens senator Larissa Waters had previously said that that revenue would more than cover the shortfall if the GST is removed from pads and tampons.


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what do I think? I think this is a very twisted attemot to sledge the ALP rather than seriously deal with a problem. How do I know this? Because, unfortunately for you, the actual truth is out there: ‘Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory—Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (11:57): Labor certainly agrees that we need a way to fix the current arrangements around the GST and sanitary products, and we have certainly been clear about this in the past, but we do not believe an amendment to this bill is the way to fix it. We think in all fairness, considering how important the GST is for states and territories, and indeed the agreement that exists between the Commonwealth and the states and territories on GST arrangements, that these discussions about how this should be done and when it should be done needs to happen with all of those parties but also needs to be done at the start of the process, not at the end of it here in this chamber.
We understand the Greens position on this issue. Labor has previously put forward the proposal that the additional GST on digital downloads be used to more than offset the cost of exempting sanitary products, and I think that was a condition that we urged the former Treasurer to take to the treasurers meeting to discuss and reach agreement on. I think at that meeting there were Liberal state treasurers who disagreed with that approach. Whilst we will not support this amendment this morning, we do acknowledge the intent behind it and certainly the Labor Party’s view is that this is something that we need to look at further and we need to examine and discuss with all relevant parties how the removal of GST on sanitary products could be progressed with the agreement of all parties. At this point we will not be supporting this amendment to this bill.’