Pun-filled tampon tax campaign goes viral

An excerpt of Ms Liley's online petition page.

An excerpt of Ms Liley's online petition page.

A Perth university student's pun-ridden online petition against tax on tampons has attracted almost 40,000 supporters.

Sophie Liley from the Women's Department of the University of Western Australia's student guild created the petition earlier this month.

Other essential items and services, such as basic food, water, education, child care and health are exempt from GST, but tampons and sanitary pads attract the 10 per cent charge as part of the goods and services tax, introduced in 2000.

Protestors demand GST exemption for sanitary products.

Protestors demand GST exemption for sanitary products. Photo: Mike Bowers

The petition claims there's "no womb in society for a tampon tax," that the tax was "cramping my style" and the tax is described as a "bloody outrage," "a stain on our national image" and a "bleeding disgrace."

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While Ms Liley has taken a humorous approach to the matter, a letter addressed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and other politicians makes some serious points.

"Charging women as a direct result of their basic biology is hugely and fundamentally sexist - especially given that condoms are classified as GST-free essential health products while sanitary items are not," the letter stated.

The letter said the extra cost infringed on the economic rights of Australian women, costing them approximately $1000 across their lifetime.

This additional cost must be borne by women who, on average, earn less than their male counterparts.

Australian Bureau of Statistic released on Thursday showed that West Australian women earned $469 per week less than men - a difference of $24,393 on an annual basis.

The letter says, "I ask as an Australian, and a voter, that you use your considerable influence, along with that of your colleagues, to make lasting, positive change for the women of Australia, and have tampons (and all other sanitary products) placed on the list of GST-free essential health products."

Ms Liley said her initial target was 10,000 supporters, but when that was reached within days, it was increased and she's now hoping to get 40,000.

Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said sanitary products were in no way a luxury and women should not have to pay GST on them.

He said they were an essential for women to deal with menstruation and something in today's society that people accepted women could not do without.

"To consider something a luxury, there has to be a more basic alternative; there is none in this case, so I'm very happy to say that women's sanitary products are not a luxury items and should not have GST paid on them," Mr Choong said.

He said to consider a society without essentials such as sanitary products would be to "go back to the dark ages."

Representatives for Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard's offices were contacted in regard to the matter.

Ms Gillard's office referred Fairfax Digital to Treasurer Wayne Swan's office.

A spokesman for Mr Swan did not say whether there were any plans to remove GST from tampons.

"The GST has applied broadly to goods and services since its introduction by the Howard Government," he said.

"Any change to the rate or base of the GST requires the unanimous agreement of the state and territory Governments."

A response is yet to be received from Mr Abbott's office.

Ms Liley is likely to still be hoping for a response that suggests that action will be taken.

"Luckily, women of childbearing age - those of us who need tampons - will be key voters in the upcoming election. So they'll need to listen if they want to woo us for our votes," the petition said.

Ms Liley's petition calls for change; "Let's pull the plug on the tampon tax" the petition claims, "the tampon tax is ridiculous. Period."

3 comments so far

  • I feel like this needs a little more careful discussion than simply berating the government for applying GST to feminine hygiene products. There are other products with GST applied to them that most people would consider essential - dental hygiene products are a good example. Given the high cost of dental care in this country, the lack of financial provisions for it and the link between dental hygiene and overall health outcomes, it would make sense to reduce the cost of toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash for instance.

    GST has been in place for over a decade now - perhaps this is a good opportunity to consider broadening the GST exemptions in the supermarket to include more essential hygiene products such as soap, dental products, pads and tampons on top of the already exempt condoms, lube, some dietary supplements and sunscreen.

    Commenter
    Lily
    Date and time
    February 22, 2013, 10:09AM
    • I made a comment once on The Punch, querying why sanitary items are still taxed. One respondent quite seriously replied that I can always wear reusable, washable rags instead of complaining about the price. In 2013 we still come up against THIS TYPE OF ATTITUDE.

      Commenter
      ingo
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 10:47AM
      • I made a comment once on The Punch, querying why sanitary items are still taxed. One respondent quite seriously replied that I can always wear reusable, washable rags instead of complaining about the price. In 2013 we still come up against THIS TYPE OF ATTITUDE.

        Commenter
        ingo
        Date and time
        February 22, 2013, 10:47AM

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