A Student Basically Got Joe Hockey To Scrap The Tax On Periods On ‘Q&A’ Last Night

Next time someone tells you signing petitions doesn't change anything, bop them on the head with a giant novelty tampon.

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Treasurer Joe Hockey fronted the Q&A audience solo last night to sell his latest budget and try to get through an hour of live TV without getting himself fired. He managed it, but only just — it was an often-confrontational hour marked by aggressive questioning, awkward silences and repeated apologies on Hockey’s part, along with the usual quota of Q&A moments that make you want to throw your laptop out the window and move to a cave in the Warrumbungles.

But it also saw something pretty excellent happen. Earlier this month Sydney university student Subeta Vimalarajah started a campaign called Don’t Tax My Period, calling on the government to remove the 10 percent GST markup on pads, tampons and other sanitary products by declaring them essential health goods — a designation which condoms, sunscreen and nicotine patches all enjoy. The campaign took off — Vimalarajah’s Community Run petition gathered almost 90,000 signatures in a few weeks and attracted international media attention, but no reply from Hockey’s office or the Treasury.

In order to get one, last night Vimalarajah and her fellow campaigners submitted a video question asking Hockey if he believed sanitary products were an essential health good for half the population, essentially asking him to justify why pads and tampons attract the GST when condoms and nicotine patches don’t. Hockey initially responded by making the kinds of faces 11-year-old boys do when they first hear what periods are, leading to this exquisite photo juxtaposition between Hockey and Vimalarajah (who was in the audience) which I love more and more as the hours go by.


(Credit: Back Jallhausen.)

But Hockey had to concede Vimalarajah’s point — he admitted that the GST should be taken off sanitary products, and promised Vimalarajah he would “raise it with the states at the next meeting of the Treasurers in July” as the first move in having sanitary products declared essential health items. Given the huge bump in attention the campaign’s gotten since last night there’s every reason to believe the Treasurer will keep his word and see the markup removed, especially given that Joe Hockey would probably rather bring the carbon tax back than be confronted with a giant tampon again.

So in the space of a few weeks, a student got the Treasurer of Australia to scrap an unfair, outdated and sexist tax, the repeal of which will have a direct financial and social benefit for every Australian who menstruates. The next time someone you know says signing a petition or online campaigning can’t make a difference, bop them on the head with a giant novelty tampon.

Feature image via GetUp.