Opposition leader Bill Shorten has confirmed that Labor won’t ditch the controversial “tampon tax” – despite earlier comments suggesting he would.
Last night Shorten said the government couldn’t afford to scrap the tax, which is set to raise about $400 million over 10 years or $40million a year.
The Goods and Services Tax currently applies to tampons and other sanitary products, but not to condoms or lubricant.
The so-called “tampon tax” became a political headache for former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015 when university student Subeta Vimalarajah launched an online petition asking for it to be ditched.
The petition said: “Since 2000, the Australian Government has taxed every menstruating Australian 10 per cent every time we get our period.
“How can a bodily function be taxed? Because the government doesn't consider the tampons and pads we're forced to buy every few weeks 'necessary' enough to be GST-free.
“On the other hand, condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches are all tax-free because they are classed as important health goods.”
At the time Shorten seemed against the tax. “This has always been about fairness when it comes to the taxation of essential items” he said in a statement with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen last year.
After a concerted campaign, treasurer Joe Hockey finally agreed to lobby states to remove the tax.
The win came as many countries and states around the world started ditching similar taxes. Canada has axed its tampon tax, as has France, along with many states in the US, including this month New York.
However, last night Shorten said “We can’t afford that... I’m not going to make a promise I can’t keep”