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Australia to review lifting so-called 'tampon tax'

Australian Finance Minister Joe Hockey has said he will reconsider the nation's tax on women's hygiene products, after a campaign by a university student. The minister said he would bring the issue up at a July meeting.

The Australian Treasurer made the announcement on national broadcaster ABC on Monday night, saying he believed women's hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, "probably should" be considered necessary health products, and tax-exempt.

But Joe Hockey said any changes to the legislation would have to be supported by state and territory governments, who receive revenues from the tax.

His comments were in response to university student Subeta Vimalarajah, whose online petition "Stop Taxing My Period!" has raised around 93,500 signatures.

"Taxing Australians for getting their period isn't just sexist, it's fundamentally unfair!" the petition says.

"Isn't the reproductive health and hygiene of 10 million Australians important too?"

Australia introduced a 10-percent goods and services tax in 2000, with exemptions for products such as condoms and sunscreen.

Hockey said he would raise the issue of making the products tax-free at an upcoming meeting of finance ministers.

The opposition Labor party has said it will back efforts to remove the levy from tampons and sanitary pads.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Tony Abbott refrained from commenting directly on the topic, saying it was a "state issue."

"My preference is that the states and territories should make up their minds whether they want any changes to the GST, and, if they do, then they are welcome to come to us," he said.

In a media release issued on Tuesday Hockey said he had asked for the cost of removing the GST from feminine hygiene products.

"When I receive those costings, I will write to the states for them to consider the issue ahead of our next meeting in July," the statement read.

Other countries have also seen similar campaigns, including the United Kingdom, where a petition has garnered more than 230,000 signatures.

Despite being championed by the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in recent elections, it is unlikely to result in any changes.

Efforts are also under way to change legislation in France, Italy, Malaysia and Canada.