‘Decisions that were definitely made by blokes’ Number 127: In Australia, breastfeeding aids are taxed as “luxury items”.
We’ll give you a moment while you snort-laugh.
Yes, while the Federal Government finally agreed to axe the tax on tampons and other sanitary items this month, products like breast pumps, nipple shields and supplemental nursing systems remain subject to the GST.
Courtesy of the folks on Capitol Hill, these continue to be listed by the ATO as “luxury or non-essential” items.
Try telling that to the mother with feeding difficulties, bleeding nipples or mastitis; to the mother who chooses or needs to return to work within weeks of giving birth; or to the mother who, for whatever reason, can’t be with her child.
Mmm, suctioning milk out of your own body… So luxurious.
For context, here are some items that are exempt:
Lubricant. The intimate kind.
Even infant formula.
As ABC notes, the latter avoids GST because it’s listed under the “basic food” category.
Yet encouraging/facilitating the most basic food there is – breast milk – sorry ladies, but that’s gon’ cost ya.
Holly Wainwright and Christie Hayes are joined by a gaggle of specialists to deep dive on the battle of the boob…
The whole thing is even more bizarre when you consider that the federal Department of Health’s own policy on infant feeding recommends “exclusive breastfeeding of infants to around six months of age”.
Currently only 15 per cent of Australian children meet that guideline, yet in an effort to improve that statistic the Government claims to be “committed to protecting, promoting, supporting and monitoring breastfeeding”.
Just not if it means sacrificing that little levy, which, according to Australian National University Associate Professor Julie Smith, brings in an estimated revenue of just $2 million.
In a pre-budget submission to the Government, Dr Smith suggested that the GST from breastfeeding aids be removed and applied instead to tinned baby food, toddler formula and other “growing up milks”, which could recoup more than $48 million per year. Money that could be spent on lactation support for new mothers, or extending paid parental leave period; two things known to improve breastfeeding rates.
A reasonable amount of maternity leave? Now that’s what we’d call a luxury.