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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

‘Tampon tax’ scrapped amidst GST reforms

On Wednesday 3 October, a unanimous decision was made by State and Territory Treasurers to remove the GST on feminine hygiene products.

The Council on Federal and Financial Relations, made up of the Federal Treasurer and State and Territory Treasurers, met in Melbourne to make the decision. The ‘tampon tax’ has been the subject of debate and protest since the inception of the GST in 2001.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the “Commonwealth had placed the important issue on the agenda”.

“Common-sense has prevailed and this reform is long overdue. The GST will be removed on feminine hygiene products from January 1 next year.”

ACT Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr said last week he welcomed the decision.

“The ACT Government has long called for the GST system to remove unfair discrimination on the basis of gender or other factors, which is why I have long supported this positon and welcome today’s decision.”

ACT Shadow Treasurer and Leader of the Opposition Alistair Coe also welcomed the decision, dubbing the move “a sensible measure”.

The Council also discussed proposed changes to GST distribution, as laid out in recommendations from the Productivity Commission.

Mr Frydenberg confirmed that legislation will be introduced to Parliament that will: “establish a more stable and predictable equalisation standard, based on the fiscal capacity of the stronger of New South Wales or Victoria; introduce a GST relativity floor, initially set at 70 cents and ratcheting up to 75 cents in 2024-25; and permanently boost the GST pool with direct Commonwealth cash injections”.

The Government expects the proposed changes to benefit all States and Territories. Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, said the reforms will see the ACT “$46 million better off”.

“As a priority, we will introduce legislation that locks these reforms into place, providing the certainty needed for the new, fairer GST distribution system. It prevents the system becoming a political football.

“These changes are overdue, and it’s time we lock them in,” Senator Seselja said. “Our government’s reforms ensure the ACT, along with every State and Territory across the country, will be better off.”

The Council also discussed health, schools and remote Indigenous housing.

Online birth registration

Parents in the ACT can now register the birth of their baby online, after the launch of Access Canberra’s online birth registration form.

It is free to use and parents are being encouraged to register online using a smartphone, tablet or computer to reduce waiting times for documentation and reduce the possibility of misinterpreting handwriting.

Between 1 January and 30 August, Access Canberra registered 3,406 births via its paper-based system, which is still available for those who cannot access the online form. Registrations need to be submitted within six months of the newborn’s birth.

Visit accesscanberra.act.gov.au and enter ‘birth certificate’ in the search bar.

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