Monday, 19 June 2017
Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017; In Committee
The Nick Xenophon Team will be supporting the amendment moved by Senator Waters today on sheet 8156. Since the GST was introduced in 2000, the Australian government has slapped every Australian menstruating woman with a 10 per cent tax every time she gets her period. Women do not buy pads and tampons for pleasure or luxury; they are essential health items. It is an absolute absurdity that the government and opposition are continuing to support what is essentially a tax on women's bodily functions.
Condoms have been made GST-exempt due to their important health benefits, yet pads and tampons, which are essential for the reproductive health of an estimated six million Australians, are slapped with a 10 per cent tax. It is estimated that women use up to 30 individual pads or tampons during their periods, costing up to $15 per cycle. A woman can have 450 menstrual cycles over the course of her life, meaning she can spend close to $7,000 in a lifetime on pads and tampons, and this is multiplied in households with daughters. What message is the parliament giving to young women in circumstances where the tax on women's menstrual hygiene products is unfairly borne by women only because women bleed? Any argument about the budget bottom line flatly ignores what is fundamentally an issue of social and economic equity.
Women earn on average $261.30 less per week than their male counterparts and they are also statistically at greater risk of living below the poverty line. This tax also disproportionately targets those who may already be disadvantaged, including the homeless and the unemployed. We should not be continuing to force an underpaid or disadvantaged portion of society to pay more for basic essentials, and that is why the Nick Xenophon Team will be supporting this amendment.
The CHAIR: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 8156 as moved by Senator Waters be agreed to.