Plan to axe the tampon tax
IT'S the Budget measure which heats up the gender economic debate: the GST levy on tampons but not on some men-only products.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek raised it today as she pledged a Labor government would pay detailed attention to Budget impacts on women.
"Well take the tampon tax," Ms Plibersek, shadow minister for education and for women, told the National Press Club in Canberra.
"Australia levies the GST on tampons but we don't apply it to Viagra. Only a bunch of blokes sitting around a table would think that that was a good decision.
"It was a dumb decision when we made it in 1999, and 20 years later, it's still a dumb decision and we have to fix it."
Ms Plibersek indicated it was the principle involved, and not the tax itself.
She said of the money involved: "I haven't seen recent figures so I don't want to give you a number, but I'll tell you what, in the scope of the whole Federal budget and the amount we collect in GST, I think that the technical term is 'bugger all'."
A Labor government would reintroduce a women's budget statement first introduced by the government of Bob Hawke. This would be along with "gender responsive Budget practices".
Ms Plibersek said Australia was the worst member of the OECD industrialised countries for "gender governance".
She said the money measures affecting women in recent Budgets had been significant.
"Take the Government's tax cuts in the 2017 budget, the tax cuts for high-income earners. Three-quarters of the beneficiaries of those tax cuts are men," she said.
"This followed four attempts in four years to slash paid parental leave by vilifying mothers as rorters and fraudsters for simply claiming their workplace entitlements.
"The same 2017 budget introduced effective marginal tax rates of over 100 per cent for some women as a result of the increased Medicare levy, earlier loan repayments for a graduates and other measures.
"That's what happens when you don't consider the gendered impacts of the decisions you're making."
As for the GST and women's sanitary products, Ms Plibersek warned it could take time to overturn the "dumb decision".
"You're supposed to do it with the states and territories. You're to have every state and territory sign off on changes to the GST," she said.
"But this is something that I just don't think is beyond us. I really think that we can find a solution to this."