Treasurer Joe Hockey has pledged action on GST relief ahead of his wide-ranging tax reform process after a Sydney university student queried him about tampons on Q&A on Monday night.
Subeta Vimalarajah confronted the Treasurer about the inconsistent way the GST is applied to tampons but not condoms or sunscreen.
Asked “isn’t the reproductive health and hygiene of 10 million Australians important too?”, Mr Hockey had to agree.
“Do I think sanitary products are essential? I think so, I think so,” Mr Hockey replied on Q and A on Monday.
He has pledged to lobby the states to have the tax lifted from tampons.
“I’ll give you this undertaking,” he said. “I’ll raise it with the states at the next meeting of the treasurers in July.”
Mr Hockey needs state governments to agree to changes in the way the GST is collected, he said.
Ms Vimalarajah has started a petition to seek changes to the GST, attracting more than 90,000 signatures.
Her petition draws attention to the extra 10 per cent in GST women pay for the essential sanitary product, and also raises the average wages gap which leaves women $262.50 worse off, the petition said.
The Re:think tax discussion paper was launched in March and submissions close on June 1.
Opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said the application of the GST to tampons dates back to the start of the GST.
“These are in effect health products and aren’t simply a matter of choice for women,” Mr Bowen said.