lifestyle

We need to axe the "tampon tax" because a tampon is not a bloody luxury item.

We need to stop taxing periods. Period.

While watching Monday night’s episode of Q&A a surprising — and rare — thing happened to me. I found myself agreeing with Joe Hockey.

When asked by a student if he thought sanitary products were essential goods for half the population, the Treasurer agreed (after a moment of red-faced squirming, obviously).

Then, when asked if he believed the products should be taxed accordingly, ie. that menstruating Australians shouldn’t have to pay an extra 10% GST on pads and tampons each month, again, he said ‘yes’.  Or rather he said: “It probably should, yes. The answer is yes.”

It went a little something like this:

Applause all round.

This new, agreeable Hockey even went so far as to promise to lobby the states on the matter at the next Treasurer’s meeting in July and, after the program, released a statement saying he had instructed his department to cost the proposal.

And so he should. Because just like condoms, lube, sunscreen and nicotine patches (which are all tax-free) tampons and pads should be classed as important health goods — and always should have been.

Watch the video in full here: Treasurer Joe Hockey agrees to lobby states to ditch GST on tampons, sanitary items after question from student on Q&A.

The Sydney University student who put the question to Hockey, Subeta Vimalarajah, is also behind the online petition Stop Taxing My Period!, which now has upward of 95,000 signatures and is the reason the issue has re-entered mainstream political debate and everybody’s newsfeeds.

I say ‘re-entered’, because it is certainly not the first time the fairness of the tax has been questioned, nor the first petition to be launched against it since it came into effect in the Howard-era.

In 2000, when pads and tampons were first labelled “luxury items”, there was an uproar. Just check out these caped “Menstrual Avengers” pelting cabinet ministers with tampons.

Now, those are some superheroes I can get behind.

At the time, Health Minister Michael Woolridge had this to say on the matter (with thanks to ABC News):

“Well, as a bloke, I’d like shaving cream exempt, but I’m not expecting it to be,” he said.

When someone pointed out that condoms were exempt from GST, Dr Wooldridge also added:

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“Well, condoms prevent illness. I wasn’t aware that menstruation was an illness.”

It’s been FIFTEEN YEARS since then, and how far have we come? Not very effing far.

Ten million Australians are still paying an estimated $30 million extra every year, just to stop themselves bleeding all over the place once a month.

Yes, this week we made some progress, but why has it taken this long? Why does the reproductive health and hygiene of half of all Australians continue to be ignored?

This week on Mamamia Out Loud the panel saw red on the Tampon Tax (post continues after snippet):


Less than 24-hours after Hockey said he would take the issue to the states, Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to back him up.

Our self-appointed MINISTER FOR WOMEN said it wasn’t something his government was planning to do.

“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.”

What did Twitter have to say?

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In spite of his leader’s ambivalence, and to his credit, Hockey has said he’ll keep his word and collaborate with the states on the matter.

So far treasurers from Victoria, South Australia, NT, the ACT, and the QLD Deputy Premier Jackie Trad have all said they’ll support him.

New South Wales Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian simply said she “looks forward” to having a broad discussion about the GST and tax reform in July.

It’ll be about bloody time, really.

AMIRITE?

For more period talk from Mamamia, try these:

“Our government still has a women problem. But women aren’t the problem.”

“Yes, I use a menstrual cup. No, I’m not a weirdo.”

It’s one of the hardest parts of being a homeless woman. But it’s rarely discussed.

 

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