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Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has quashed proposals to lift the country's controversial 'tampon tax' on women's sanitary products.

Mr Abbott distanced himself from the notion less than 24 hours after treasurer Joe Hockey had promised to consult with the states and territories about lifting the 10 per cent good and services tax from tampons and pads because they were "essential products".

Mr Hockey - who has recently been at the centre of a storm concerning his new 'backpacker tax' on working holidaymakers - was responding to the organiser of an online petition to remove the tampon tax.

University student Subeta Vimalarajah - whose petition has more than 90,000 signatories - used ABC's Q&A programme to ask the treasurer directly whether the charge on sanitary products should be removed. "It probably should, yes," Mr Hockey told the audience. "The answer's 'yes'."

Mr Hockey said he would lobby state and territory governments, but Abbott was quick to pour cold water on the move. "I understand there's long been a push to take the GST off goods which are one way or another regarded as health products," he said. "It's certainly not something that this government has a plan to do."

In her petition, Ms Vimalarajah says: "Condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches are all tax-free because they are classified as important health goods. But isn't the reproductive health and hygiene of 10 million Australians important too?"

Similar protests have taken place in the UK, where tampons are subject to value added tax - albeit at a reduced rate of 5 per cent rather than the standard 17.5 per cent.





Tampon tax: Abbott at odds with treasurer over sanitary goods
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