Australia Removes Controversial ‘Tampon Tax’ After 18-Year Battle

A controversial tax on female sanitary products has been scrapped by the Australian government after a near decades-long struggle spearheaded by women’s groups.

According to BBC News, tampons and sanitary pads in the country are sold with a 10 percent goods and services tax (GST), as they are labeled non-essential items.

Women’s rights campaigners have claimed the labeling is unfair, particularly because products such as condoms, lubricant, and sunscreen are exempt from GST. And on Wednesday, federal and state governments unanimously agreed to change the law.

“We’re really delighted that everyone’s come on board to scrap what is an unfair tax. Millions of women right across the nation will be very thankful for it,” Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer told Sky News Australia.

Known as the “tampon tax,” the levy has drawn protesters to the streets ever since it was introduced in 2000. At the time, the then-health minister, Michael Wooldridge, said tampons weren’t exempt because they did not “prevent illness.”

“As a bloke, I’d like shaving cream exempt but I’m not expecting it to be. Condoms prevent illness. I wasn’t aware that menstruation was an illness,” he told ABC in 2000.

But now, women all across the country, including long-time campaigners, are celebrating the victory.

Australian politician Janet Rice said on Twitter, “We won!! After 18 years campaigning finally this bloody tampon tax is going to be axed! Greens leading the way once again. Thanks everyone for all your amazing campaigning over all the years.”

Details of the change are still being discussed, as so many other menstruation products are now available on the market, to reach a conclusion as to what exactly will be included under the tax ax. But according to The Guardian, products are expected to become cheaper starting in January.

The move was brought on by the federal government, which had previously failed to remove the levy due to opposition from state and territory counterparts, who worried about the decrease in tax revenue that would come from it. The country’s states and territories are up for a loss of around A$30 million ($21 million) in revenue because of the decision.

In 2015, a petition calling for an end to the “tampon tax” was signed by over 90,000 people, and even Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that sanitary products should not have been included under the GTS umbrella when it was first introduced 18 years ago.

“This is a huge win for all Australians who menstruate and shows the power of grassroots movements when we work together,” Senator Rice added.