Scrapping the tax on tampons and sanitary pads is in the coalition’s sights after Treasurer Scott Morrison pledged to exempt the items from the GST.
Mr Morrison will seek to move female sanitary items to the essential health category exempted from the GST at his next meeting with state treasurers.
“There’s no great gender conspiracy here or any of that nonsense,” Mr Morrison said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“It’s just a tax anomaly that we have already tried to fix once, and will now give it another try.”
“I can see it is a source of frustration and angst,” Mr Morrison said.
The move comes after years of lobbying for change from advocates who point to the unfairness in items like condoms and lubricants already being exempt.
“Huge community pressure has tipped the scales in our favour,” Greens senator Janet Rice tweeted.
But the exemption requires the sign-off of states and territories to come into effect.
A 2015 push to axe the tax by then-treasurer Joe Hockey was knocked back by state treasurers reluctant to sacrifice the $30 million in revenue it produced.
Mr Morrison said the the 10 per cent tax should never have been levied at tampons and sanitary pads in the first place.
“Slogans and manifestos should be left at the door as we get together, and we seek to agree on this,” he said.
His decision comes three months after the opposition made a similar pledge.
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer called for the states and territories to get onboard, telling reporters in Melbourne on Saturday that “millions of Australian women will benefit”.
“It will mean a little bit of extra money in their pocket but ultimately it’s the right and fair thing to do.”
In April, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek said,”This is effectively a tax on women”.
At the time, Mr Morrison described Labor’s announcement as “cynical exercises.”
Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad said it’s a good day to be woman.
“I wrote to Scott Morrison quite some time ago to say that Queensland was 100 per cent supportive of removing the GST on women’s sanitary products,” she told ABC News in Brisbane on Saturday.
“This is something women have no control over, it is something that is absolutely necessary in their lives and it shouldn’t be taxed.”
“The irony that shaving cream is GST exempt, lube is GST exempt but sanitary products aren’t. This reform is long overdue,” she added.
States concerned about lost revenue
While welcoming the government’s move, Labor warned it risked failure if there was no plan to replace the lost revenue in order to win over the states.
State and territory Labor leaders have signed up to the opposition’s plan, seeking to offset lost revenue by applying the GST to 12 natural therapies.
But the government claims the states will receive an extra $6.5 billion in revenue as a result of changes already made to the GST.
“So agreeing to this modest change is achievable from a financial point of view,” Mr Morrison said.