Morrison government's GST promise sparks new row with the states
05 October 2018, 05:41 | Erica Roy
The price of tampons could fall within months following today’s meeting
Sanitary products have been subject to GST since it was introduced in 2000 after the government at the time refused to make them exempt as a health product, saying the products did not prevent illness. "The current Act amounts to a tax on the biology of people who menstruate and it never should have existed in the first place".
The decision followed a almost two decade-long campaign by gender rights activists, who argued that the tax was discriminatory.
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At a pivotal meeting in Melbourne today, the states and territories backed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's push to remove the 10 per cent GST from sanitary items - known colloquially as the "tampon tax" - from January 1 next year.
"We're really delighted that everyone's come on board to scrap what is an unfair tax", Australia's Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer said.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told Sky News there was widespread support for removing tax among states, with his state absorbing the $10 million cost "for a good cause".
"WA has been ripped off for too long and it's time to support GST reform", he said.
In the United Kingdom, tampons, sanitary pads and other menstrual products are also subject to a value-added tax (VAT) of 5 percent - though notably, the standard VAT rate for any goods or services in the country is 20 percent.
Greens Senator Janet Rice, whose own attempt to get rid of the tax stalled after passing the Senate in June, celebrated the decision.
"So hopefully that becomes a formality today", he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
"I think ultimately Labor will see that this should be passed and I'm confident it will be".
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.
"That's the decision of the Australian parliament, it doesn't need the agreement of the states and territories".
Mr Morrison has turned down the volume on treasurers disgruntled about the deal.
Federal Labor is broadly supportive of the GST changes but is concerned there are no protections contained in the government's draft legislation.
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