In Australia, GST was introduced and  by the Howard Liberal government and commenced on July 1, 2000, despite Mr Howard’s earlier promises of “never, ever” imposing a GST. Fancy that.

There has always been opposition to this tax for various reasons but the one thing that has always stood out to me is that it is meant to be a tax on luxuries as opposed to essentials and yet pads, tampons and even my beloved menstrual cups incur this bloody (pun intended) tax.

Look at us women, luxuriously shedding our uterine linings, month after bloody month. Who do we even think we are?

When it first came in, women besieged the capital, sticking pads all over the place and making noise about the unfairness of a tax that only effects women. The tax stayed, however, despite various protests over the last decade and a half. There has recently been a renewed push to have it removed but the trouble is, I’m fairly sure the government doesn’t really care about women, so a sexist tax that unfairly targets us is just another point to add to the ever-growing list.

I’m sure if our erstwhile Minister for Women experienced a period, he’d reconsider the “luxurious” aspect of it.

Or how about the Treasurer, Joe Hockey- would he like a turn? While he’s busily accusing Australian women of “double-dipping” and “fraud” for legally accessing paid parental leave in the manner in which is was intended (to complement existing employer-paid PPL), he’s also been kinda rorting the system himself which, somehow, is totally fine. If he got periods I have no doubt the tax-payer would be covering the cost of him renting his wife’s hot-water bottle or something.

Greens MP Adam Bandt niftily tied the issues of PPL and the menstruation tax (as I call it) together by sharing the following image:

tampon ppl

You can sign his petition to keep our PPL as is here

I laughed and laughed, because sometimes if you don’t laugh, you’ll just cry.

The GST on menstrual products has always mad me furious to think about (regardless of the time of the month *wink wink*). How is managing a period a freaking luxury? When a person decides to tighten their budget, they cut back on luxuries, right? It’s Budget Management 101, surely. I cannot think of a single woman that decides to skimp on pads and tampons to save money. Yes, you can buy a menstrual cup for long-term savings and at least the GST on that is a once off- but seriously- why should we pay a luxury tax on ANYTHING to do with having a period? It’s there anything the least bit decadent about being moody, followed by eating all the things and being in pain and bleeding for several days and choosing NOT to bleed on stuff? Imagine if we all took up free-bleeding in protest! (Yeah, no. Not for me!)

The current push to get rid of the menstruation tax is being led by a law student and activist called Subeta Vimalarajah who lauched an online petition, organised a tampon-costumed protest at Parliament House and put the question to the Treasurer on Q and A:

Joe Hockey did end up conceding that the menstruation tax should “probably” be removed. I read that doing so would end up costing the government $30mil a year. Think about that for a minute. $30 million dollars might be a drop in the ocean of all taxes collected but it is $30 million being extracted from women and families with girls, every year, because they have the outrageous temerity to menstruate.

The Minister for Women has weighed in, saying “It’s certainly not something that this Government has a plan to do.” Should this give us hope? Because if there’s one thing we know about Tones, it’s that he seems to like to play the opposite game- case in point: his “signature” PPL plan that he was so devoted to. You know the one- women getting six months off at full pay? We all know what happened there and that’s just one example. Then again, it could be even worse. Perhaps he will notice that menopausal women and pre-pubescent girls escape this particular lady-tax. Instead of repealing GST on menstrual products he might introduce one for the luxury of ever having a uterus (just so he also captures those who’ve had a hysterectomy) or start charging us per ovary.

The simple fact is, it’s wrong to tax women for being women. There’s no equivalent tax for men. It was described as sexist discrimination when it was introduced in 2000 and it’s still sexist discrimination now.

Sign here to help end the tax on sanitary items.

# IBOT with Essentially Jess

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