Culture

22,000 People Have Asked Joe Hockey To Kindly Stop Taxing Periods

"Unwanted monthly subscription to Lucifer's waterfall shouldn't be taxed."

Many women may not know this, but for most of our adult lives, we’ve been paying the government for the immense privilege of gushing blood from our vaginas.

When the GST was established by the Howard Government, there were a number of exemptions put in place to ensure Australians weren’t being unfairly charged for items that were absolutely necessary to our lives. This included a number of goods and services related to food, water, education and health, but strangely pads and tampons never made the cut. You can buy condoms, lubricant and nicotine patches completely GST-free, but if you don’t love the idea of leaving a trail of blood everywhere you go for one week a month, you’ll need to hand over an extra 10 percent.

It may not seem like much in the short-term, but considering this is a recurrent cost over the course of every woman’s life now matter how disadvantaged she may be, the dollars do add up. Moreover, many have argued it makes a terrible statement about how the government values women’s health.

In 2000, John Howard was routinely questioned on the issue and heavily criticised by a number of high-profile politicians. In 2009, Coles made a stand on this and decreased the price of their sanitary items by 10 percent, and in 2013, a student from WA petitioned the government to axe the tax once and for all.

Now, as nothing has been done about this in more than a decade, the issue is back once again. This week, Subeta Vimalarajah, a student from Sydney University has started a new petition asking Treasurer Joe Hockey to remove the tax in his upcoming GST review. In just three days, it’s collected more than 22,000 signatures and made international headlines with Jezebel saying “Dag, Australia, chill and stop taxing periods, man”.

“Right now, the Australian government is reviewing the entire Australian tax system, saying that it’s looking to make taxes lower, simpler and fairer,” Vimalarajah writes. “This review is a once in a generation opportunity to put the tampon tax on the government agenda for serious consideration, and get this unfair tax removed once and for all.”

Hosted on Community Run, a campaign site powered by the advocacy group GetUP, the petition also provides each signatory with an easy template to make an official submission to the Treasurer’s Better Tax Review meaning Joe Hockey’s office is very likely flooded with emails about tampons right now.

Comments from those who have signed the petition include strong statements like “I bleed and I vote” and “Unwanted monthly subscription to Lucifer’s waterfall shouldn’t be taxed”. And, though the focus is undoubtedly on women, an increasing number of men are also offering their support, agreeing with Vimalarajah’s statement “[it] isn’t just sexist, it’s fundamentally unfair”.

If you’d like to read more about this, the petition’s creator has written a personal explanation of why she’s passionate about the issue for student newspaper Honi Soitand our own Sinead Stubbins drew attention to the myriad other ways women are penalised for getting their periods just last week.

You can sign the petition over here, or make a direct submission to the government’s Better Tax Review here before June 1.

Feature image via Rupi Kaur/Creative Commons.