Labor has promised to axe the so-called tampon tax if it wins government, saying it has found a way to get states and territories on board.
The $30 million lost every year would be recouped by applying the 10 per cent GST to a dozen natural therapies such as herbalism and naturopathy.
“There’s no excuse now for the states and territories to refuse to make this important change,” deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
She acknowledged there had already been several attempts to remove the tax from women’s sanitary products over the years, including by Liberal treasurer Joe Hockey in 2015, but “interference” from the states had made it “impossible”.
“The difference this time is we’ve identified an alternative source of funding for the states that leaves them slightly better off over the decade,” Ms Plibersek said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government already had the policy in place, but it was the states and territories – which must all agree to changes to the GST – that had stopped the change.
“There is no agreement for the states and territories on this issue,” she told the Nine Network.
Australian women spend around $300 million on sanitary products each year with each item attracting the 10 per cent GST because they are not considered necessities, according to the federal opposition.
However, products such as incontinence pads, sunscreen, nicotine patches and even Viagra are exempt from the tax.
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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is calling it a “tax on women”.
“We’ll do it if we get elected – but I hope Mr (Malcolm) Turnbull will just adopt our solution in next week’s budget,” he said on social media.
The Greens moved amendments to a GST bill to try to bring in the change in 2017 but it was voted down in the Senate.
The party’s spokeswoman for women Janet Rice said she has a draft bill ready to go and has asked for Labor’s help to pass it.
“If Labor work with us in the coming weeks we could see the GST removed from menstrual hygiene products once and for all,” she said.
“We’ve been taxed on our biology for long enough. This sexist and unfair tax needs to go now.”