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GST: a tax on breast feeding mums.

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8 February 2000


Following recent revelations that tampons will not be exempt from the Government's GST net, Labor Party Senator Sue West, has announced that a range of products which breast feeding mothers depend heavily on will also be subject to the GST.

Senator West made the announcement following yesterday's Senate Estimates committee hearing where she attempted to establish what health care products would be taxable and which ones would be GST free.

"While questioning officials from the Department of Health and Aged Care it was established the GST would apply to range of products which nursing mothers depend heavily on," Senator West said.

"Such products include breast pumps and feeding pads, baby bottles and cleaning solutions. It was also established that the GST would apply to a wide range of other vital health goods."

Senator West attacked the implementation of the GST on these products, saying the policy discriminated unfairly against breastfeeding mothers.

Senator West told the Estimates hearing:

"So a poor woman suffering from mastitis and needing a breast pump to express, so that she can continue the child on breast milk, but give the nipples a bit of a rest, that's not a disease or a problem?"

"The Department also admitted that regulations to define exactly which health products would be exempt from the GST wouldn't be available until at least March and that the final list of products to be exempt depended on the agreement of the States."

Senator West said the Government could end this unfair policy by excempting all health care products from the GST.

"Under section 36-47 of the GST legislation, all of these vital health care products can be exempted without passing legislation. The Government should stick to their original promise that health would be GST free."

Media Enquiries: James O'Brien (02) 6361 7211.