Bill To Scrap Tampon Tax Passes The Senate. But It's Not Over.

"Menstruating is not a luxury."

What you need to know
  • A bill to scrap the ten percent GST on sanitary products has passed the Senate with no amendments
  • The bill is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives where the coalition has a majority
  • The Turnbull government has long maintained it needs support from all states and territories before the tax was lifted

The Turnbull government faces mounting pressure to scrap the ‘tampon tax’ after draft laws passed the Senate on Monday. 

The Greens spokesperson for women Senator Janet Rice introduced a “simple” bill to remove the ten percent GST on sanitary products. 

It passed with no amendments, with support from Labor and crossbenchers, as protestors outside threw packets of tampons into the air on the lawns of Parliament House.

Tampons were thrown into the air as the bill was debated in the senate. Image: Share The Dignity

“This is a huge step closer to axing this unfair tax on sanitary products,” Senator Rice said.

Earlier, she told the Senate the reform is long overdue.

“It is easy for some to dismiss this as a non-issue. But there are some people who are sometimes faced with the choice between buying a tampon or buying food,” she said, noting lower-income women and transgender women are the most affected.

"As anyone who menstruates knows, menstruating is not a luxury.”

The consistent response from the Turnbull government has been that it needs support from all states and territories before the tax was lifted.

Liberal senator Amanda Stoker, who replaced former Attorney General George Brandis, echoed the GST -- which she said costs  about $11 a year and is a stretch only for a small number of women -- was a matter for state governments. 

All states and territories led by Labor governments support scrapping the tax while Liberal-run NSW, Tasmania and South Australia are opposed.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on the Turnbull government to abolish the tax.

“The tampon tax is a tax on women,” Shorten said.

Australian women spend about $300 million on sanitary products each year. The tax component is about $30 million a year.

Senator Janet Rice was confident the bill would pass through the Senate. Image: AAP

Labor has pledged to remove the tax should it win the next election, proposing it would make up for any revenue shortfall by introducing the GST to a group of alternative medicines recently excluded from private health insurance rebates.

The bill is unlikely to pass the lower house where the coalition has the majority, but it adds pressure.

Senator Rice called on Malcolm Turnbull to “show some leadership”.

“The pressure is now well and truly on the Prime Minister to … support the Greens' bill to axe the tampon tax, and pass it through the House of Representatives,” she said.

“Just like we did with marriage equality, the Greens will continue to put pressure on the Prime Minister until the tampon tax is axed. (He) needs to address this now.”