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: