Greens Bill to Remove GST on Sanitary Products Passes Senate

Monday 18 June 2018 @ 3.30 p.m. | Legal Research | Taxation

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Axe the Tampon Tax) Bill 2018 (CTH) (‘the Bill’) passed the Commonwealth Senate on 18 June 2018. The Bill is for the purpose of removing the goods and services tax (GST) from sanitary products. The Bill is now due to be debated in the House of Representatives.

The Bill proposes to amend the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (CTH) to make the following changes:

  • Insert provisions to state that supply of sanitary products is GST-free;

  • Omit references to sanitary pads or tampons in provisions related to medical aids or appliances.

Greens Senator Janet Rice noted in her second reading speech that the issue of GST on sanitary products was long running. She stated:

‘From the very beginning there has been strong opposition from the public about the decision to apply GST to sanitary products. There have been protests here at Parliament House in Canberra, and at universities and in cities around the country. For over 17 years people have been protesting. The first petition to this parliament opposing the GST on sanitary items was tabled here in this place on 15 February 2000, with 10,355 signatures calling on the Government to make tampons and sanitary pads GST-free. Since then, there have been countless similar petitions started by individuals, community groups, university groups, charities and political parties.’

She addressed the importance of this issue particularly to vulnerable groups such as transgender people:

‘The impacts of the GST on sanitary products are actually felt by people who need to purchase the products. This tax disproportionately affects low income women and transgender people, many of whom have insecure work and housing. It's easy for some to dismiss this as a non-issue. But there are people who are sometimes faced with having to make a choice between buying tampons or buying food. The fact that they're charged more for an essential sanitary product because of the GST is unacceptable.’

Founder of the charity 'Share the Dignity' Rochelle Courtenay was told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘For 17 years people have been protesting around the country – at Parliament House, at universities, and in cities and towns around the country.’

As reported by SBS Australia, the Federal Government argues that it can only change the GST if all state and territory governments agree. Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker is reported by SBS Australia as saying: ‘Not a single state or territory treasurer has been asking for this tax to be reduced or removed from sanitary products.’  

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Treasury Laws Amendment (Axe the Tampon Tax) Bill 2018 (CTH), second reading speech and explanatory memorandum, as published on TimeBase LawOne.

Eryk Bagshaw, ‘Bill to end tampon tax set for Senate approval,’ (The Sydney Morning Herald), 16 June 2018. 

AAP, ‘Bill to axe GST on tampons passes Senate,’ (SBS News Australia) 18 June 2018.

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