Andreia Schineanu says Steph Cooke and Sussan Ley should back bid to remove GST from tampons

Women protest the “tampon tax” at Parliament House in 2015.Female politicians have been told to take a stand against the “tampon tax” by a leading Wagga feminist.

Charles Sturt University researcherAndreia Schineanu has backed Labor’s proposal to drop the GST from tampons and other feminine hygiene products, saying it was gender-based discrimination.

“This is very reflective of the sexism that exists in government,” DrSchineanu said. “It is something that’s a natural function of the female body, it’s not a choice, I can’t decide not to have my period this month. That’s what feminists are talking about, this kind of discrimination is based on female bodies.”

Dr Andreia Schineanu.

Under law, health goods such as condoms, lubricants and sunscreen are GST-free, but since 2000 women have paid the 10 per cent tax on tampons and sanitary pads. But it’s not just a decision for the federal government: Because of the way the GST is set up, states and territories would need to agree to any move to exemptfeminine hygiene products.

The added cost–estimated at about $20 to $30 per year–was unlikely to break the bank, DrSchineanu said, but it was unfair.

“If the government really wanted the extra revenue, it should tax condoms–they’re a choice, not a necessity,” she said.“It’s unfair at a basic level and that’s why it grates on so many people, it’s so obviously discriminatory. I think it would be wonderful for MPs like Steph Cooke and Sussan Ley to stand up about this, it’s a women’sissue not a political one.”

Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke said she was empathetic, but the GST was more complex than a“one-off announcement”.

“There are so many essential products that are currently subject to the GST,” she said.“My gender doesn’t mean I’m blind to the myriad ofother essential goods and services that are also taxed.We need to address these issues holistically and that’s a debate I welcome at afederal level.”

Acting NSW Shadow Minister for Women Jenny Aitchison.

Acting NSW Shadow Minister for Women Jenny Aitchison said the NSW government was one of the few states or territories that did not support the removal of the “tampon tax”.

“The lives of millions of NSW women would be improved immediately if this tampon tax was removed,” Ms Aitchison said. “Removal of the GST recognises that women should not be charged a tax to deal with their periods.”

Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire could not be reached for comment.

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