What You Need to Know about the Tampon Tax Bill
WORDS BY BIANKA FARMAKIS
The tampon tax has been a highly contentious topic since the turn of the millennium. In 2000, when GST was introduced, it was legislated that all ‘luxury’ items would incur an extra 10% price increase. So, while every person who’s ever experienced a period turned around and said “what the hell is so luxurious about menstruating?,” eighteen years later a bill to axe the tax passed through the Senate on MONDAY afternoon.
And thus, the feminine hygiene, feminist issue comes back into the red spotted spotlight.
When Howard’s “goods and services” tax was first introduced, the public seemed less concerned about this change, and more concerned about his tracksuit collection. But a dialogue brew, illuminating one overarching question:
Is it sexist to tax people for using sanitary items for a physical thing they can’t control?
The fact that products like condoms and Viagra are not on the list of goods considered ‘luxuries’ (because safe, satisfying sex is a chore right?) and sanitary items are, fans the fire of an extremely heated debate.
Greens Senator and major figure behind the legislative movement to abolish the tampon tax, Janet Rice, called it a “sexist tax [that] has been in place [for] far too long”.
Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek supported this, articulating, “it’s time this arrogant and out-of-touch Prime Minister gave women a tax cut, instead of his mates at the big banks.”
Rice added, at the Senate: “If cis men required sanitary products because they bled every month, do you think there'd be GST added to them? Absolutely not. It is unfathomable."
The fact that Viagra, a drug that assists men’s natural inability to ‘get it up’ is tax-free, and sanitary items that assist people’s menstrual cycles every month are not, is an enduring paradox that outrages many. And those who aren’t outraged, clearly haven’t bled for fifty-three days consecutively, turned white pants red in public on a 12-hour work shift, or known what it’s like to pass chunks of tissue through your system on a regular basis (like yours truly).
THE CURRENT SITUATION
A lot of people celebrated Monday’s decision thinking the 10% tax was flushed down the toilet like an ultra slim, U by Kotex tampon. Oh, how optimistic we all were – though Monday’s decision in the Senate was a very positive step, the tax reform at hand still remains subject to the Lower Houses’ vote. And it doesn’t look bright enough to stop the menstruating public paying the extra 10% every time of the month.
In order for the tax cut to go ahead, the following will have to happen:
ONE: The bill will need to pass through the House of Representatives.
TWO: The Greens will need to get the majority of the House on its side.
THREE: Because the Coalition has the majority in the House, someone from the Libs or Nationals will have to vote against their party for the tax to get passed.
FOUR: Even in the slim chance that Lib/National politicians decide to stab each other in the back for the good of humankind, Australia’s states and territories will have to legislate the bill too.
The tampon tax garners $35 million in revenue for the Government. If removed, it will see over 10 million people save $1000 over a lifetime on average.
All we can say is: let there be blood.