While answering a question at the People’s Forum in Brisbane, an election debate hosted by the Courier Mail and Sky News Australia, the Leader of the Opposition was asked if he would drop the GST on tampons.
He responded straight away, saying that he would not, stating that he was not prepared to make promises he couldn’t keep.
This is despite Labor’s calls in August of last year to drop the tax on sanitary items.
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said at that time, in a statement calling on the nation’s Treasurers to address the issue, “This has always been about fairness when it comes to the taxation of essential items.”
While it’s good to get a straight answer from a politician and we admire Bill Shorten for his honesty, we can’t help but be disappointed.
A GST on tampons is a direct tax on women, and the bill comes in monthly. Chris Bowen was right back in August 2015 – less than a year ago. Tampons are an essential item, and that they attract a tax that is not applied to any other essential item is deeply unfair.
The Coalition’s current policy is also to keep a GST on tampons.
Malcolm Turnbull declined to attend the election debate hosted by Sky News anchor David Speers, a decision criticised by former Prime Ministerial Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin. In declining the invitation to attend, Malcolm Turnbull suggested that the invitation was instead an ambush.
“What we’ve said is normally you would have approached us and sought to come to some arrangement,” he said at a press conference earlier this week.
“You chose not to do that and to issue what in effect is a decree and we’ve said ‘no’.”
Instead, Malcolm Turnbull was interviewed by Leigh Sales on ABC’s flag ship current affairs program, 7:30.
Sales questioned Turnbull closely on the Coalition’s record in Government, asking if the Government’s record over the past three years was so strong, then why was Tony Abbott dumped as Prime Minister late in 2015.
She also quizzed him about the sharp drop in his popularity, noting that he’d dropped 50 points in the popularity stakes since he took office.
UPDATE: Mamamia received a statement from a spokesperson for Bill Shorten after publication.
“Labor has always been open to removing the GST from sanitary items if we can get the agreement of all jurisdictions and if an alternative revenue source can be identified, like the Government’s Netflix tax.
“We argued that state and territory leaders should have removed the GST on tampons, and our position hasn’t changed.
“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been agreement from the states and territories to make this change happen. New South Wales and Western Australia strongly opposed the change at the last COAG.”
Mamamia sought comment from the Liberal campaign team, but has not yet received a response.