Ms Patten (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Treasurer. Last Saturday I attended the birthday celebration of the Melbourne Period Project. This is a wonderful organisation that grew in Northern Metropolitan Region, my electorate, and it now exists the whole way along the east coast of Australia. It supports women experiencing homelessness by providing sanitary products, help and advice. It has moved out to Geelong and a few regional areas in Victoria also.
In 2011 the census found that almost 23 000 Victorians were homeless. That number is constantly increasing and is even higher today. I know that we have all seen it around Parliament, and I know we all share those concerns around homelessness in Victoria and in Melbourne in particular. Forty-four per cent of those people are women and trans men, so the biological reality is that they are going to get their period each month. For people who are already facing stigma and discrimination, just maintaining your hygiene out on the street is actually really difficult but it is really important for a person’s self-worth. The period project really helps with this. It has volunteers out there handing out products. It collects products, and the products are all donated. Hundreds of people around Victoria donate these products, and hundreds of people donate money to this organisation. It is managed by volunteers.
One of the things is that tampons and sanitary products still attract GST. They are still considered luxury items. There would not be a person in this chamber, I am sure, who would think that sanitary products are luxury products. While I understand that this is a federal matter, I would just like to ask the Treasurer to put forward a case — I would be happy to assist with that — to the federal government to support the removal of the GST on tampons
The GST is a broad-based tax of 10 per cent on most goods, services and other items sold or consumed in Australia, which includes feminine hygiene products.
The 2008 Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations (IGA) sets out the process for changing the GST rate and base. Under the IGA, changes to the GST base require the unanimous support of all the state and territory Governments and the endorsement of the Commonwealth Government.
The proposal to remove GST on feminine hygiene products was discussed at the Council on Federal Financial Relations meeting in August last year. The Victorian Government supported the proposal to make feminine hygiene products GST-free. However, unanimous agreement could not be reached with all other state and territory Treasurers and therefore there could be no change to the existing GST arrangements for feminine hygiene products.