Senate debates

Monday, 19 June 2017

Bills

Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017; In Committee

11:52 am

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move amendment (1) on sheet 8156:

(1) Page 27 (after line 16), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 2—Exemptions

A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999

1 At the end of Subdivision 38 -B

Add:

38 -65 Sanitary products

A supply of *sanitary products is GST-free.

2 Section 195 -1

Insert:

sanitary products means tampons, sanitary pads, panty liners and similar items.

3 Application

The amendments made to the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 by this Schedule apply in relation to supplies made on or after 1 July 2017.

This amendment aims to use this bill as an opportunity to abolish the tampon tax. It is pretty clear that the revenue that would be raised by this bill—which I understand has the support of both of the large parties and hence will pass—would be about $300 million. We have asked the Parliamentary Budget Office to cost how much removing the tampon tax would cost, and they said it would be about $115 million. So the states would still be $185 million ahead if they were to agree to remove the tampon tax.

This is a great opportunity to finally address this sexist taxation of women's biology. For some reason, when the GST laws were written it was decided that sanitary items were a luxury item. It could not be further from the truth. There is no luxury at all to need to buy these products every month, and it is a sexist tax that applies only to women. When you look at the fact that condoms and lubricant are GST-free yet sanitary items are not GST-free, it is clear that women are being taxed for their biology. We have an opportunity to fix that here today. With this bill we have any opportunity to assure the states that they will not be short on money, that they will in fact have a revenue source that could compensate for the loss of revenue taxed off the back of women's biology. So this is a very important opportunity, and I would hope that both sides of this chamber would consider seriously this chance to rectify a historical wrong, which is in fact a sexist tax on women's biology.

I would also like to flag that later today I will be tabling the petition I alluded to earlier, which over the weekend has already garnered more than 11,000 signatures from people who agree that this sexist tax on women's biology and women's bodies needs to go. Today is our chance to axe the tampon tax. This has been talked about for many decades, and I want to acknowledge that several decades ago it was members of the Labor Party who moved to abolish the tax. It was then Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja who moved in this place to abolish the tax—wouldn't it be great if today we could finally get that job done for the legions of Australia women who are balancing the budget off the back of their biology?

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