Leyonhjelm: The tampon tax debate was one we shouldn’t have had

The tampon tax discussion shouldn’t be one we’re having in 2018. It’s time taxation policy caught up with contemporary expectations. 



Today I played my part in dragging the Australian Parliament into the 21st century. The Senate’s agreement to remove women’s essential sanitary products from the list of “luxury” items on the GST register is long overdue.

It is a disgrace that in 2018 we should even have had to have this debate.

Since being admitted into this Parliament four years ago, I have consistently questioned and challenged the arbitrary nature of the application of the GST.

In no other area is it more subjective and discriminatory than in the supply of tampons and sanitary pads.

It is an insult to millions of women across Australia that such essential items are deemed luxuries while other products such as Viagra, condoms and lubricants are considered essential health items and declared GST free.

Legislation in the Australian Parliament in the past may have been made by blokes for blokes, but those days have long gone; it’s time taxation policy caught up with contemporary public expectations. I will now be looking at other discriminatory GST applications.

As recently as February this year, I asked Treasury whether there were any health benefits to women accessing sanitary products and if the lack of access might be detrimental to women’s health. I also asked whether, if menstruation was classified as a disability, it might allow tampons and pads to be made GST free.

Both were clearly intended to highlight a farcical situation.

The consistent response from government over the tampon tax was that it needed consent from all states and territories before the tax was lifted. This is rubbish. The GST is established by federal law and can be readily amended by the federal parliament.

Unlike New Zealand’s comprehensive GST, which would be better if it meant lower income taxes, Australia’s GST is highly selective. Thus there should be no qualms about adjusting the boundaries of such an imperfect tax in favour of taxpayers.

The tampon tax costs Australian women $30 million a year as part of an obscene $63 billion GST hit to Australia’s hip pocket. If the House of Representatives approves the bill passed in the Senate, it need not continue.

The Liberal Democrats is the only party committed to fewer and lower taxes for all Australians, regardless of gender.



David Leyonhjelm is a senator for the Liberal Democrats


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